The Parsha this week is Parshas Emor. The beginning of the Parsha deals with the laws of a Kohen, and the special responsibilities that are placed upon him. The Parsha begins with the words “Emor el Hakohanim Vamarta Alaihem… - tell the Kohanim and you shall tell them” (Leviticus 21:1). There is an obvious redundancy in this verse as the words Emor Vamarta – you should tell and you should tell - seem to be needlessly repeated. Our Sages tell us that the Torah is referring to two things that we must instruct the Kohen: 1) To keep the commandments they have as a Kohen. 2) To make sure that the adults are responsible for the children, to make sure that they train them to keep these commandments.
Rav Moshe Fenstien asked, if both instructions to tell these commandments are when we are talking to the adults, where do we see the idea that we are referring to the observance of the children?
He explains that in a most beautiful way, that in truth both instructions are for the adults. When a person trains their child to fulfill the commandments of the Torah, it is not enough to simply say “Do this” or Don’t do that”. If a child feels that keeping the Torah is something that is not enjoyable, not pleasant, or not fulfilling, they will not be likly to keep doing the commandments. Even if their parents observe the commandments, if whenever the children hear about doing a mitzvah from their father or mother they are told how they are doing it even though it is so hard, even though isn’t so pleasant, that can easily turn the child off from doing what they are supposed to do. The way to train a child to keep the commandments is only if a father and a mother train the child to love the mitzvahs, to enjoy doing them, to feel accomplished by having performed them, to feel that this is the most precious and enjoyable part of life: If these emotions are conveyed to our children then a true feeling of commitment to observe them can be planted in their hearts.
This is the concept of saying 2 things to the adults: 1 – that they have to observe the commandments, and 2 – how to observe them, with proper joy and happiness. If these two ideas are absorbed by the adults, then the willingness to desire to keep them will be transmitted to the children.
Another observation made by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, is that the Torah is teaching us that there are two distinctive ways of talking – one to adults and one to children. We can’t treat a child like an adult, nor an adult like a child. Each has the proper way to address and talk to them. With this in mind, as we deal with people around us, whether our family, our friends, our children, or others, we are being taught by the Torah to find the proper way to address each one individually.