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Hashkafa shiur summary
Instilling Emunah in Children

by Rav Simcha Klein

  • The first and foremost spiritual obligation1 of a parent to his child is to instill in him true emunah in Hashem2.
  • The greatest gift a parent can give to a child is to help him develop emunah.
  • Emunah, besides being a secure anchor in a turbulent world, is the bedrock3 of a future passionate connection to Torah and mitzvos4.
  • The educational system usually assumes that every child already internalized the basics of emunah at home5.
  • Children6 intuitively accept the notion of a Creator. The role of parents7 is to confirm, stimulate, and guide that inborn knowledge8.
  • The two primary levels of emunah are emunah b’seichel and emunah b’lev.
  • Emunah b’seichel is the cerebral knowledge and acceptance (at least on an intellectual level) of the reality that there exists a Creator of the world who controls everything inside of it.
  • Emunah b’lev is the deep felt awareness that there exists a Creator of the world who controls everything inside of it9.
  • The distinction between emunah b’seichel and emunah b’lev is comparable to the distinction between the fire safety awareness of a child who heard once from his father that fire can be dangerous and a child who himself was once badly burnt10.
  • Emunah b’seichel is conveyed to children intellectually through discussions with them on their level.
  • Emunah b’lev is implanted11 in young children through observing their parent’s emunah in action12.


1. Igros Moshe (YD 3:76). The Rambam (Pirush haMishnah Bikurim perek 1) states that the reason Avroham is referred to as “father of the nations” (av hamon goyim) is because he tought those nations emunah.
2. As Hashem said of Avroham – (בראשית יח,יט) כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ ה’ לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט.
3. For an elaboration on how one’s feelings towards Hashem in his youth can influence his future connection to Hashem, see Steipler Gaon in Birchas Peretz (Vayeira).
4.וז”ל החזו”א ז”ל (קובץ אגרות ח”ג א’), “רצוני היה לקבוע הדיבור בקירוב הלב ליסודי האמונה, כי זה כל האדם. והרפיון בבחינת המושגים של עיקריד האמונה, הוא שרש המחלה שנתנה למחשבות שלילות והרהורי דברים בטלים להכנס לחדרי הלב” עכ”ל!
5. For the simple reason that up until recently that in fact was the case, however now many prominent educaters have noticed that this is not the case anymore.
6. Adults and teenagers who were exposed on a daily basis (via the media, academia, and general society) to belief systems where the idea of a G-d is causally dismissed and rejected often develop difficulty with emunah issues and need detailed arguments and explanations to sustain their emunah. Children who are unexposed and untainted will naturally accept emunah b’Hashem and don’t need great philosophical proofs (see Miselas Chaim B’Chinuch (p. 127) who asserts that for this reason emunah is best taught to children early on).
7. Without parental vindication and cultivation, those natural feelings will atrophy and ultimately fall to the wayside.
8. The idea that emunah is an inherent component of the psyche sometimes buried deep below the surface is expressed by the Chazon Ish (Emunah V’Bitachon perek 1), Lev Eliyahu (vol. 3 page 292), Ba’al haTanya, Tzidkas HaTzadik (227), Meshech Chachmah (Devarim 30:11) and many others . This deep emunah is not obtained by the psyche through any external source, rather it stems from the subtle influence of the soul on the psyche. See Medrash Ne’elam (Parshas Lech Lecha) and Vilna Gaon Sefer Yetsira (1:1 ofen 3).
9. (דברים ד,ל”ט) וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ כִּי ה’ הוּא הָאֱלֹקים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת אֵין עוד.
10. Rav Avigdor Miller Z”L לב אביגדור (שער הבחינה אות כ”ב) ; see also הגה”צ רבי ירוחם ממיר ז”ל (דעת תורה עמ’ נ’) who elaborates on the different levels of emunah possible for a person to posses; see also מכתב מאליהו (ח”א עמ’ 97).
11. Based on Rav Shlomo Volbe Z”L in Zireya U’Binyan BaChinuch (p. 37).
12. This is the way emunah was transmitted to children in all generations.