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Section:  Avodah   Category: Chanoch L'Naar
I Told You Already 399 Times!

How many times do you as a parent need to tell your kids the same thing? Why don't they ever "get it"? Or maybe they do... Well, if this question troubles you, there is good news and bad news. First the good news. The gemara (Eiruvin 54b) tells the story of Rav Preida who needed to explain everything to his Talmid 400 times before he understood. Can you imagine his unbelievable patience? The most amazing part of it was that after 399 times the talmid still seemed totally clueless. Yet after the 400th time it all finally clicked.

How could this be? The Baalei Mussar say that we learn from here a very important lesson in Chinuch. We can teach a child something over and over again. Yet even after many times the child will act and appear as if you haven't made the slightest impression on him and will continue his old ways as if nothing from your talks and encouragement was absorbed. Yet one day suddenly out of the blue the child will "get it" and suddenly start acting in accordance with the Chinuch you so painstakingly instilled in him over the years.

What is the secret? The secret is that every word you said and every good example you set made a deep impression on the child... way below the surface. You may not have noticed but all your hard work was changing the child slowly although it did not spill over into his actions. Then one day when the child is good and ripe all your years of hard work will shine through when the hundreds of impressions finally translate to a tangible change in the child. The moral is, don't give up. There is more to Chinuch than what meets your eye. You can rest assure that every drop of your chinuch is being absorbed and is worth the effort.

Now for the bad news. The gemara continues by relating that one day Rav Preida told his talmid that he needs to go do a certain mitzva when they finish learning. After they learned 400 times the talmid still didn't know anything. Rav Preida asked him why and he answered that since he was worried that Rav Preida would leave he couldn't concentrate. So he taught it to him another 400 times since the first 400 didn't make any impression on him whatsoever. We see from here a very scary lesson. If you do something to make the child fearful he will lose focus. Then you can teach him a million times over and it still won't leave the slightest impression.

Most of us don't have nearly enough patience to preach and teach without seeing any visible progress. Unfortunately this frustration can result in screaming and intimidating the child into doing what we want. Problem is that this has negative educational value. It doesn't bring the child a single step closer to "getting" what it is you demand of him. How can a normal parent solve this frustrating cycle of poor chinuch. Count to 400 slowly. If that doesn't work, then daven to Hashem for an extra dose of patience in the zechus of Rav Preida.

RELATED ARTICLES:children  chinuch  patience  Rav Preida

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