Shabbat Re-eh 5773

Does Judaism permit us to believe that our children are perfect?

Now that Jenny McCarthy is about to become a co-host on The View, we can expect that her unorthodox parenting philosophy will gain more attention. One of her beliefs is in the highly-dubious concept of Indigo and Crystal Children. According to this theory, some children have supernaturally physic powers, and are either deeply soulful or intense.

[All of this prompted Tablet Magazine humorist Marjorie Ingall to imagine Indigo or Crystal kids at Jewish summer camps–as she wrote here.

Of course, all children are exceptional, but what if they’re exceptionally bad? The rabbis of the Talmud dealt with this question when ruminating on one phrase from this week’s Torah reading, Re-eh:

Banim atem–you are children of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 14:1). Rabbis Yehudah and Meir debated the implications of this phrase.

“When you behave in the customary way of children, you are called [God’s] children; when you don’t, you aren’t; this is Rabbi Yehudah’s view. Rabbi Meir, however, said: regardless, you are called [God’s] children, as is written (Jeremiah 4:22), ‘they are foolish children,’ and (Deuteronomy 32:20) “children with no loyalty in them,’ and (Isaiah 1:4) ‘depraved children!'” (Bavli Kiddushin 36a)

It goes without saying that we want God to consider us worthy children, and at least to consider us as God’s children even when we’re not worthy, as per Rabbi Meir. But what about Rabbi Yehudah? Is there any merit to his position? Can it guide us as parents and grandparents in any meaningful way?

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi David Wise