By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
In Bereishis, Perek Yud Ches, posuk zayin it says in reference to his preparing for guests that Avraham ran to the cattle and then gave the animals to the child to prepare. Rashi explains that the child is referring to Yishmael. Avraham Avinu wanted to be mechanech his son. We also find in Perek Yud Ches, posuk yud tes that Hashemsaid he must reveal to Avraham what will happen in Sedom because “I know that he will be mechanech his household to tzedaka and what is right.” The Meshech Chochmasays this is the source for the mitzvah of Chinuch.
The Mishna Berurah in siman mem zayin, seif koton yud says that a father and mother should always be davening that their children should learn Torah and be tzaddikim and baalei midos tovos. The kavana should be in the bracha of Ahava Raba/Ahavas Olam, when saying birchas haTorah (venihyeh anachnu vetzetzaeinu), and when saying Uva Letziyon (one should have his children in mind by l’man lo niga lorik velo neileid labeholo.)
Where in the bracha of Ahava Rabba are we davening for our children? The answer must be that in order for parents to get their children to become baalei Torah and baalei mitzvos, it is incumbent upon the parents to first become baalei Torah and baalei mitzvos themselves. It is only after the parents become mechubar to Hashem that they may expect the children to follow suit. In Birchas Hatorah we say venihyeh anachnu vetzetzeinu only after we daven for ve’haarev na. If the Torah is sweet to the parents, it will become sweet to the children also. The same concept applies to Uva Letzion. We say l’maan lo niga lorik velo neileid labehala. We daven this for our children only after we say hu yiftach libeinu besoraso etc earlier. It is only after we ourselves have our hearts opened to the Torah that we can daven that our children should have their hearts opened. This truly clarifies that when we daven Ahava Raba, that Hashem should light up our eyes to learn the Torah, we not only have in mind ourselves but by extension we have our children in mind. That is the only way to be successful in raising children who will learn Torah.
This is really a lesson in chinuch as a whole. Parents need to understand that it is not do as I say, but rather do as I do. Leading a life like that will bring about successful chinuch for the children.
Let us hope that we all become better ourselves thereby helping our children become better too.