The Jews are known to have a culture that places great emphasis on learning and scholarship, and the children are taught to value learning and read books since young. In this regard the Jews are quite similar with the Chinese.

What is the parent's role in Jewish tradition on the matter of raising a child? I am asking this as a non-Jew who feels that the traditional Jewish wisdom has something to teach when comes to childrearing, so I am more interested in the general principles and practices on childrearing that make the Jews who they are today(value learning, good education etc) rather than things that are specific to the Judaism rituals.

Note: similar ( but not dupe) questions here.

Edit: expand the question to ask about what the parents would do in practice on childrearing.


2 Answers 2


The parent plays numerous roles and has numerous responsibilities. The general answer is that the parents must relay the principles of the Torah - meaning, the way to perform its laws as well as the ethical principles the Torah teaches, in short everything that is involved in becoming a Torah-observant Jewish person.

This can be gleaned from numerous Torah verses that specifically address the principle of parents teaching the children. One of them, I know, offhand, is in part of the "Shema" (Devarim 6) - "You shall teach them to your children..." Mind you, I'm sure that there is a specific commandment regarding this, whcih most likely comes from a different verse (would appreciate assistance on this, please.)

I know that my answer states the principal in general terms, without specifying HOW to accomplish this. But, this general rule, I think forms the essence of the parents role. And this responsibility is continuous throughout both the parents' and child's life. It could be argued that teaching children, in a sense, even occurs while the parent is dead, but that's for a separate question.

Responding to your comment, below:

Avot ("Ethics" of the Fathers) stresses in a few places that action is more important than scholarship. Thus, the most important role parents have is to actively show how mitzvot are performed and, more importantly, to never demonstrate to your children that the performance of any commandment is "burdensome", even if you, personally feel that way. Ideally, you shouldn't. But, for purposes of mentoring your children, I think you should, temporarily, "fake" the joy, or at least hide the burden. Your kids should always sense that every thing you perform is for the sake of God, and you perform it because you love to obey God's commands.

  • if you want to use the verse from my answer. go ahead and i'll delete.
    – ray
    Jun 12, 2014 at 17:48
  • @ray - Thanks. Will leave mine for now, as I was mentioning general verses, as there are many. Yours is better :=) I'm still looking for the verse that shows that it's a mitzvah, though.
    – DanF
    Jun 12, 2014 at 17:51
  • Would you like to add some of the practices that accomplish the practices?
    – Graviton
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:52

Rabbi Moshe Eisemann in his book Of Parents and Penguins classifies the role of parents based on a Talmudic story in which Bruriah (wife of Rebbi Meir) tells him of the passing of their children with an analogy that a depositer came to take back his deposit. Based on this, Rabbi Eisemann develops the idea that the role of parents in Judaism is stewardship, that we are given responsibility to watch over the souls that were entrusted to us and ensure that they are returned "intact."

R' S.R. Hirsch (quoted in the book The Joy of Raising Children) explains that the role of parents is to be role models - we serve as the model for our children of how to live, and our relationship to them models their perception of the relationship we have with Hashem. Therefore, the role of parents is to perfect themselves in order to be the perfect models for their children.

  • Yez, you have any references on how to accomplish that in practice?
    – Graviton
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:53

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