Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
There is a famous idea of the Hatam Sofer which portrays an important connection between a parent's life and child's spiritual development. Every Rosh Hashanah, a heavy decision is made in the heavens as to the future of each individual in that upcoming year. A person can be granted a year of good health, prosperity in business and success in all endeavors. On the other hand, a person can be judged to pass away during the upcoming year.
We learn in the name of the Hatam Sofer, that even if a parent has a child who still needs him, a decree of the parent's upcoming death (either because of his sinful transgressions, or simply because his time in this world has ended) is torn up, and the parent will earn extra time of life.
This concept is hinted to in the verse: וְהוֹתִרְךָ ה'' לְטוֹבָה בִּפְרִי בִטְנְךָ (דברים כח, יא) interpreted here as “Hashem will leave you for good [meaning: alive] in [because of] your children.” Of course, the need that we are discussing is specifically a spiritually need. If a child needs a parent for physical needs, this is not enough for a decree of death to be commuted (annulled). Why? Because for such needs, Hashem will provide, as we learn from the verse: אֲבִי יְתוֹמִים וְדַיַּן אַלְמָנוֹת (תהלים סח) Hashem provides for the physical needs of orphans. We are focusing on a child who still needs the help of a parent to develop spiritually in the ways of Torah and morality.
We can even expand this concept. We learn from Rashi in Bemidbar 3:1 that if one teaches his friend's children Torah, those children are considered his very own children. Therefore, any individual who is responsible for the spiritual development of children, would be included in this concept. The spiritual need of these children would prove positive for the individual's judgment in shamayim.
Let's clarify: according to what we are learning in the name of the Hatam Sofer, one who educates his or her child in Torah, or is involved in the education process of Yahadout, may be saved from a “gezar din” or decree from heaven of death. What an awesome power does spiritual guidance and education have!
Indeed, we see many sources that a child's spiritual developmental needs can be a parent's salivation. For example, we learn in the Yalqout Shimoni (midrash) discussing the verse: לָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר ה'' אֶל בֵּית יַעֲקֹב אֲשֶׁר פָּדָה אֶת אַבְרָהָם (ישעיהו כט, כב) When did Yaacob redeem Abraham his grandfather? The midrash explains that Abraham was saved from the Kivshan Haesh, the fire pit, due to the merit of Yaacob, his future grandson. Abraham had to be saved because he needed to grow into the role of becoming our nation's forefather, and an icon for his future grandson Yaacob to look up to and emulate. Therefore, any decree that may have been on Abraham at the moment he was thrown into the fire pit was commuted.
Teach your children Torah. Of course, one can only teach what one knows. Therefore, create the time to begin learning Torah ten to fifteen minutes a day, before or after you pray. Prepare