The first passuk of the parsha isאמור אל הכהנים בני אהרן ואמרת אליהם לנפש לא יטמא בעמיו. Rashi explains the double term אמור ואמרת as follows להזהיר הגדולים על הקטנים that the adult Kohanim should warn their children concerning HilchosTumah of which a Kohen is obligated to avoid coming in contact with a corpse. Here we find the responsibility of parents to be mechaneich their children with the mesorah that AmYisrael received from Sinai.
The gemarah says (Yevamos 62b) that 24,000 talmidim of Rabbe Akivah died during this period starting from Pesach because שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה they did not give kovod one to another. They died by the disease of אסכרה diphtheria which is a painful death. We have to understand why the omission of giving proper kovod which doesn’t seem like a very severe aveirah, yet warrants the penalty of death and such a harsh one in particular.
Rav Gedalya אייזמן Shlita was quoted saying that Chazal say (Shabbos 33b) that the death of אסכרה comes upon a person for three reasons 1) for speaking Lashon Hara, 2) for eating forbidden foods, 3) for bittul Torah. By not showing respect to their fellow colleagues, they belittled the kovid of Torah in the eyes Klal Yisrael. Imagine when one witnesses Tamidei Chachamim, Rosh Yeshivos or Rebbes, together with their talmidim and Chassidim, fighting with each other. How will simple religious Yidden react to such conduct? It causes a great Chillul Hashem and can cause a tsunami of bittul Hatorah. How? These simple Yidden won’t send their children to Yeshivos to learn Torah if these unmentchlich individuals are examples of the products of Torah institutions. Even if they do send their children to yeshivos and pay the astronomical price tag of a Torah education instead of a free tuition school, when they graduate there will be no consideration to continue learning afterwards. Their philosophy will be that it is better to get a job or higher education than to be part of this non peaceful legacy.
Unfortunately we as parents unknowingly can also be candidates who cause this bittul Torah within our own family. Usually the only time during the week that we are relaxed and enjoy family time together is on Shabbos. What is the nature of our conversations during this auspicious occasion? Do we talk to our spouses and guests about Orthodox politics and news, that also contains machlokes between religious factions and Torah personalities? (The Minchas Eliazar said that the gematriah of הפלוטיק is עמלק). Do we complain about the Rav’s Shabbos derasha and make a character assassination on him and others like him? If we do, then we should know that our kids have antennas and they pick up and register all this negative information about GedoleiTorah and AmYisrael. By belittling Torah and finding shortcomings with different sects of Torah in front of your children, you can bring about bittul Torah. You create in your child negative thoughts about the prestige of excelling in Torah. This child can easily think to himself if they are fakers like you say then I don’t want to grow up to be a faker as well. If Torah doesn’t work for them to make them into a mentsch maybe the same thing will happen to me so why waste my time. Our children do not possess sophisticated minds to process the role and responsibility of bechira, and that one bad apple in the batch does not represent the entire group. What they are left with is only the negativity and shortcomings that exist in the Torah World.
The passuk says ואהבת את ה’ אלקיך and afterwards the Torah writes ושננתם לבניך . A person’s love is expressed in the topics that he talks about frequently. If his conversations revolve around sports then he manifests to all his love for sports. If he praises wealthy successful people all the time then these are his idols. If he speaks about gedolim and tzaddikim in a positive and praiseworthy manner then they are the apple of his eye. This is how the RabbeinuYona explains the passuk (Mishlei 27,21) איש לפי מהללו. The conventional interpretation is that a person is measured by those who praise him. The Rabbeinu Yona interprets this to mean that a person is measured by who he praises. The Torah therefore advises one should love Hashem as his primary love. The reason is because ושננתם לבניך you are going to teach that love to your children. How? ודברת בם בשבתך בביתיך ובלכתך בדרך ובשכבך ובקומיך You will automatically find yourself talking about Hashem always, in the house, during family trips, when you put your children to sleep and tell them nighttime stories, and when they wake up. In this manner, they too will be infused with the love of their parents, Hashem.
תהלת ה’ ידבר פי ויברך כל בשר שם קדשו לעולם ועד Dovid Hamelech says if I praise Hashem, I will cause others to praise Him. If I spout negativity about Torah and its Gedolim to others, I will cause them to despise them also, especially if I am in a position of esteem and influence.
By the talmidim of Rabbe Akivah not giving the proper kovod to one another, they brought about bittul Torah and chillul Hashem which is a major transgression and which places the future of Torah and Yiddishkeit in grave danger.
If you think our children don’t have antennas try living down the story of an ErevShabbos in kindergarten when his Tatti and Mommy are role played by the children. One Erev Shabbos a boy made Kiddush and Motzei and suddenly plopped his head on the table listless. The teacher got panicky and started to shake him calling “Shlomie are you all right”. He picked up his head and said yes. The teacher then asked why did you plop your head on the table like that. Shlomie innocently answered that this is exactly what my father does every Shabbos after making the Hamotzee.
The Torah commands כבד את אביך ואת עמך . One gadol explained this to mean Honor your fatherhood and motherhood. The parents have a responsibility to raise Hashem’s children as best as they can. Don’t poison and pollute their heads with anti Torah views and news with the leaders of our people. There is plenty time for them to find out for themselves when they grow up and mature. Give them now the chance to approach Torah and mitzvos with a foundation of purity and love, untainted from your own bias, experiences, personal pain, and subjectivity.
– Rav Brazil