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The Key To Raising A Healthy Child Can Be Found In This Torah Verse

Secure attachment is harder and harder to find these days. It is the ability to rest in yourself, to believe in yourself, to love yourself. Securely attached people feel like the world is mostly safe and people are mostly good. They feel confident to advocate for themselves and take healthy risks. Secure attachment comes about when a child has her emotional needs met. When she knows that she is loved and cherished, that she has room to take up space and make noise, that she is held by her parents, that she has a safety net and a place to always return. When she has all that, a child will be securely attached. She will also have a much easier time being successful in life.

Secure attachment is hard to come by in modern times, but perhaps the secret to it can be found in ancient Jewish wisdom. In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Terumah, God tells Moshe, “Asu li mikdash, v’shachanti bitocham.” (Make for me a tabernacle, and I’ll dwell in them.) Rabbeinu Ephraim famously asks why it says “them.” Shouldn’t it say “I’ll dwell in it?”

To that Rabbeinu Ephraim answers that when the Children of Israel build a Tabernacle, He will dwell in His people. It’s a beautiful idea about building a space for God and then God resting in you, but as I’ve been thinking about childhood emotional neglect over the last year and how it relates to lack of secure attachment (a major trend we see with our Makom members) I thought of another way to understand this verse.

A “Mikdash” is a tabernacle, but a “Mikdash me’at” (a small tabernacle) is a term we use to mean “home.” The idea is that our home should not only be a holy place, but it should be a place where we are in service of God in our mundane activities. The way we conduct ourselves, our marriages, our parenting, our home life should all be done in a healthy and elevated way. If this verse is read like that, what it’s saying is “Build for me a healthy home, and I will rest in you (and your children).” Build a home where your child is seen and heard and loved and known and held. Do all of these things, and then your children will feel My loving presence wherever they go.

is harder and harder to find these days. It is the ability to rest in yourself, to believe in yourself, to love yourself. Securely attached people feel like the world is mostly safe and people are mostly good. They feel confident to speak and take healthy risks. Secure attachment comes about when a child has her emotional needs met. When she knows that she is loved and cherished, that she has room to take up space and make noise, that she is held by her parents, that she has a safety net and a place to always return. When she has all that, a child will be securely attached. She will also have a much easier time being successful in life.

Secure attachment is hard to come by in modern times, but perhaps the secret to it can be found in ancient Jewish wisdom. In this week’s Parsha, God tells Moshe, “Asu li mikdash, v’shachanti bitocham.” (Make for me a tabernacle, and I’ll dwell in them.) The commentator Rashi famously asks why it says “them.” Shouldn’t it say “I’ll dwell in it?”

To that Rashi answers that when the Children of Israel build a Tabernacle, He will dwell in His people. It’s a beautiful idea about building a space for God and then God resting in you, but as I’ve been thinking about childhood emotional neglect over the last year and how it relates to lack of secure attachment (a major trend we see with our Makom members) I thought of another way to understand this verse.

A “Mikdash” is a tabernacle, but a “Mikdash me’at” (a small tabernacle) is a term we use to mean “home.” The idea is that our home should be a holy place, a place where we are in service of God in our mundane activities. They way we conduct ourselves, our marriages, our parenting, our home life should all be done in a healthy and elevated way. If this verse is read like that, what it’s saying is, “Build for me a healthy home, and I will rest in you (and your children).” Build a home where your child is seen and heard and loved and known and held. Do all these things and then your children will feel My loving presence wherever they go.

If you found this content meaningful and want to help further our mission through our Keter, Makom, and Tikun branches, please consider becoming a Change Maker today.

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