"The students of the wise increase peace in the world. As it says, 'and all your children shall be taught of the Eternal, and great shall be the peace of banayich' (your children)."
"Read not banayich (your children) but bonayich (your builders)."
By trying a different vocalization, Rabbi Eleazar adds nuance to the meaning of these words from Isaiah. He creates a connection between children (banayich) and those who build (bonayich). In Rabbi Eleazar's interpretation, it is these children/builders who have the potential to bring about a peaceful world.
What does Rabbi Eleazar mean when he equates children with builders?
This year several of our Fifth Grade families spent Sunday mornings uncovering what it truly means to give tzedakah. They asked: Is it tzedakah to ask for a dollar as the car pulls up to Religious School on Sunday morning? Is it tzedakah to save pennies in a piggy bank to give away later? Is it tzedakah when parents allocate a portion of their earnings to organizations they care about? Together, parents and children had these conversations. Kids asked parents hard questions about how much money they give to charitable organizations. Parents discussed candidly the challenges of talking to children about money. We visited a number of organizations who are doing important work in the Los Angeles community, and eventually had to make tough decisions about where our tzedakahcould make the greatest impact.
Read not banayich (your children) but bonayich (your builders).
Last week, I went with a few of these families to deliver our tzedakah allocation to No Limits, one of the organizations they chose. No Limits works with underprivileged deaf and hard-of-hearing children, giving them opportunities to build skills and confidence. As our students presented the check, I found myself wishing that we could have given more, made a bigger difference.
And then I remembered: These are not just our children, they are our builders. Their experience at No Limits was one lesson in a life-long curriculum of what it means to give graciously and generously. The lessons we teach our children, the experiences we provide them are only the bricks and mortar. They will use them to build the world we leave in their hands.
Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin