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Uh-Oh- Elul Is Here!

It's hard to believe that Elul is here. That means less than a month to ready myself for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I have so much to do.

Judaism-It's Just That Easy!

Recently someone commented, “Judaism should just be easy.” The truth is that the person is correct.

Teaching A Person How To Fish

Everyone knows the proverb that states: "Give a person a fish, he eats for the day, teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime." This statement is critical at homework time. When one's child approaches the parent, asking for help, it is so tempting just to give the answer rather than help the child work out the problem one their own. But if one does this, it nearly guarantees that one will continually be doing the homework and the child never becomes independent. That's when one needs to remember this dictum of "teaching one to fish," realize that time spent now will pay dividends later on, and one will help the child to discover how much can be accomplished when learning how to understand the principles.
I recently experienced this with regards to tefillah-prayer. My son, baruch Hashem, has been davening-praying- for years. As time went on, I noticed that he was able to keep up with the congregation and even be faster than me. He also developed the ability to recite the prayers by heart, which is to be expected when reciting it daily, so I asked him if he understood what he was saying. (For many years I have encouraged all of my children to understand the prayers and chumash in the original Hebrew. I have tried to inspire them and even told them to look at the English translation. But with all this, I didn't give the necessary skills, hoping/expecting the school to accomplish this.) To my chagrin, my son said that while he didn't understand the Hebrew that well, if he knew the prayer by heart, he would glance to the English side while reciting the Hebrew and see what he was saying. It was at that moment that I decided that he needed to own his own siddur. Not just any siddur but rather an Artscroll interlinear siddur. I showed him a couple of different styles and asked which he would like better. He picked one out, had his name inscribed into the front cover and was genuinely excited about owning the siddur. But what happened next was the most gratifying moment. The next morning, we went to shul and his davening had slowed down, he understood what he was saying! For the first time, in a long time, he took a little longer than me. He said, "I never realized that most of the prayers are just praising Hashem." Mission accomplished! My son now knows how to "fish." G-d willing, he will get "hooked" and continue to understand what he is saying and further develop his connection with Hashem. For while I can teach how to fish, one still has to want to go fishing.

Who's your daddy?

How do you envision your relationship with Hashem? Is it one of master-servant, King-loyal subject, or father-child? I would suggest most would pick the former rather than latter relationship. As a result, I would like to attempt to change that perception. While in reality all 3 choices are valid approaches, the latter, namely "father-child," is my preferred way. When I envision my relationship in this manner, it is so much easier to obey the Torah through the medium of love, rather than only respect or awe. When talking to my "Father" I tend to be more real and less reserved because I know that my Father will love me regardless of what I do and will always want the best for me. I will also recognize that when I don't get my way, it is not some distant monarch that has no time for me, but rather a loving father that knows what's best for me. The more I foster this relationship, the stronger that it becomes and the more I feel that I'm neither isolated or alone in whatever I'm dealing with. So in the end, "who's your Daddy?" My answer is Hashem!