Erev Shabbos Parashas Vayakheil 5774

Dear Parents,

There was a fascinating article in a copy of Binyan Magazine a few weeks back about a new way that electricity is being generated. It caught my eye for its implications for us and our children, more than any practical use that may come of it.

A unique floor tile has been designed that is able to capture energy produced when it is pressed by a certain amount of force. This means a running or jumping child presses down on the special floor tile and the force of the child’s movement is converted into a small amount of electrical power. Just as a solar cell captures energy from the sun and converts it into electricity, special sensors built into the tile take the stomping, jumping, bounding impact of an energetic child and produce a tiny amount of electrical power. A few schools in England actually generate enough electricity through such tiles to power all the lights in the school!

How brilliant! Take an unappreciated, frequently annoying, seemingly useless facet of young children – their incredibly high energy levels and rather than complaining about it or merely tolerating it – some genius is now converting that energy to produce electrical energy! How inspiring to think that among the least likely to be useful phenomena of the earth’s existence – bouncy, `trouncy’ children – someone may have enabled such a total paradigm shift, that rather than being a source of exhaustion, those jumpy kids may free the world from dependence on fossil fuels!

Incredible! Now let’s take a deeper look into a child’s neshama. If the latent power of a child can be converted into a force for the powerful benefit of mankind, how much more so a child’s inner power. We cringe at a child’s temper, impatience, self-centeredness and uncontrolled fearlessness. Perhaps, however, we should be giving thought to the potential positive uses of those energy sources. If a jumpy, hyperactive child’s energy can be harnessed to produce useful electricity, what can a restless soul, a free spirit, a fiercely independent young person produce? Do we dare sell our children short by focusing exclusively on the troubles caused by their emotional turmoil? Should we not be looking at the hidden potential contained in an assertive, fearless, impatient young child, an aggressive `researcher’? That potential may very well translate into the child becoming a titan of industry, bold entrepreneur, great Talmid Chacham, leader of a community or teacher of rebellious teenagers!

The greatest gift we, parents and teachers alike, can give our children, is to take a new deeper look at their behavior. If we look through a lens that focuses on the potential sources of compassion, spiritualism, independence, assertiveness, self-assuredness, courage, gratitude and sensitivity for others, we may see an entirely new child unfold before our eyes. Rather than concentrating on their shortcomings, we can focus on these latent power sources and nurture them, develop them and channel them into conduits for real accomplishments in life.

Once we transform our image of a child from that of an endlessly bouncing bunny rabbit, into one of a great turbine generating power to illuminate and energize the lives of others, we can begin to recognize the spiritual greatness and emotional power that lies just beneath the surface of each and every child.

Best wishes for a Shabbos of power and illumination,

Rabbi Kalman Baumann

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