The path to instilling emunah is simply leading by example
For years, Mrs. Tammy Karmel gave emunah shiurim in my neighbor’s apartment in Yerushalayim. When her youngest baby was six months old, Tammy was diagnosed ALS and her shiurim took on a new meaning.
Tammy’s body withered at a frightening pace. One week, she was able to move her hand. The next week she couldn’t. Eventually, she lost function over every part of her body.
Despite this, the shiurim were joyful, fun, and even funny. Tammy no longer taught us about emunah. She showed us what emunah was.
“I don’t feel bad for my children!” she told us. “This is from Hashem. This is perfect for them!”
Tammy’s deep serenity, faith, and joy were breathtaking. And it rubbed off on all of us. “Of course it’s obvious that my condition is from Hashem!” Tammy told us. But Tammy helped us recognize that the smaller things in life—the broken washing machine, the irate coworker, the cleaning lady that didn’t show up, the demanding husband—are also perfectly orchestrated by Hashem.
I used to think that an accomplishing day was one in which things got done. Work done, spotless house, clean kids in matching PJs sleeping on time.
Yet Tammy dispelled that myth. She taught us that true accomplishment has nothing to do with outcomes; it has everything to do with overcoming challenges. It’s recognizing where the inevitable snags and curveballs are coming from. Recognizing why they are coming. (For us to grow!) And gracefully dealing with them without kvetching, yelling, and throwing tantrums. That is an accomplishment!
I was attending Tammy’s weekly emunah shiurim when a crazy idea popped into my head. It was actually in a dream. I dreamt that I was telling an acquaintance of mine that I was going to write a children’s book about emunah.
That dream was uncharacteristically real and vivid. I woke up startled. What? Me? Write a kids book? I’d never before written for kids! And emunah was a heavy topic for little kids. But as the days progressed, the lines kept popping into my head; I had no choice but to go along. I pulled out my purple notepad and jotted them all down.
And I realized that we could teach emunah to kids. After all, I had a great teacher who showed me that.
Here are three easy ways you can!
Help them recognize the source of the good in our lives. Won a great prize? Found a parking spot right outside your in-laws’ house in Flatbush? The new recipe came out great? Thank Hashem!
Talk to your kids. Remind them that everything comes from Hashem and that everything is perfect for us. The message will eventually seep in. Cause, hey, we can’t spring the emunah thing on them one day when they’re big!
Minimize the kvetching in front of the children. If everything is from Him and everything is perfect, then Mommy can’t complain about it!