by Rav Simcha Klein
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1. Avos (perek 3, mishna 14) Chaviv adom shenivrah b’tzelem.
2. In the past (particularly in Europe), when we were constantly oppressed by non-Jewish governments and the majority of non-Jews that we came in contact with were uncouth and often times outright negative, the attitude towards non-Jews was often one of subtle ill-will. In today’s day and age it is not wise to convey this attitude to our children, since there are many decent non-Jews out there (Including the government) who deserve basic dignity in our interactions with them. Furthermore, if we don’t train our children to regard them with basic respect this can lead to great chilul Hashem in their future dealings in business and the like.
3. See Mishnas Rav Aharon (vol. 1 p. 157) for an elaboration of this point.
4. The term tzelem Elokim can be explained to children as “Hashem like qualities”. They include: 1) the ability to make moral choices or free will (see Sforno and Malbim on Beraishis 1:26), 2) the capacity for emulating Hashem’s compassionate traits (see Tomer Devorah perek 1), and 3). a superior intellect (see Rambam Yesodai HaTorah 4:8).
5. The term tzelem Elokim is very elevating and sublime and should be often used by parents in reference to people.
6. Non-Jews are also rewarded for their positive actions in the next world, see Rambam (Melochim 8:11) and Teferes Yisroel (Avos 3:14).
7. Avos (perek 3, mishna 14) Chavivin Yisroel shnikrah banim l’Mokom, see Rabeinu Yonah there.
8. Chazal tell us to make an effort to greet everyone we meet, even gentiles. See also “With Hearts Full of Love” by Rav Matisyahu Solomon Shlita.
9. See Nefesh Hachaim (shaar 1) at length on this topic.
10. Explain to children that because our neshamos are loftier they are therefore more sensitive spiritually and therefore we have unique halochos governing many aspects of our lives, such as kashrus and other similar laws.
11. In other words they undergo the Gairus process.
12. See Rambam (Matnos Anyim 10:2) that for this reason it says kol Yisroel achim.
13. Such as pas akum, chalov akum, yayin nesech, etc.
14. Teach them that what makes someone a Jew is the fact he was born a Jew, not the fact that he keeps the mitzvos.
15. Many children will raise the question: “why can’t they be told about the Torah now?” The response to that question should be that Torah is the type of thing that if you don’t know about it in your youth it is extremely difficult to learn about and adjust to later in life.
16. Such as chesed, lashon harah, onas devorim and ahavas Yisroel in general.
17. The consensus of many poskim is that the concept of tinok shnishbeh applies not only to general sinners but even to heretics who don’t believe in the 13 principles of faith (see Chazon Ish Y.D. 2:28, Igros Moshe Even Haezer vol. 1, 82:11, and Teshuvos V’Hanhagos vol. 2 siman 460 and vol. 3 siman 480) .
18. The Torah lifestyle is so far removed from the world view of a secular person that even when he hears about it he can’t really relate to it, and therefore he still retains his tinok shnishbeh status.
19. Heard from Rav Shmuel Furst Shlita of Chicago. He explained that in all probability such youngsters never received or internalized properly the basic tenets of Yiddishkeit. In today’s society, where the secular lifestyle reigns supreme and can be so seductive, someone who never understood and absorbed the basics of Yiddishkeit is tantamount to a tinok shnishbeh.
20. Such relationships can have an extremely negative effect on impressionable young children for numerous reasons.
21. Someone who has secular relatives who live in close proximity, must seek guidance as how to distance the children from their children without them being terribly insulted.