Out of the Mouths of Frum Babes


kidsBy Yitzchok Adlerstein

Quite often, I find myself in front of audiences of relgious non-Jews, explaining what committed Jewish life is all about. There is never time, of course, to convey more than a few vignettes and examples. In choosing what aspects of Torah life to highlight, I usually attempt to dispel major misconceptions about Orthodox life (e.g., that living by the Law is a spiritually empty enterprise, full of anxiety, guilt and devotion to detail rather than devotion to G-d) and/or create kiddush Hashem by offering them something they can relate to as missing in their own spiritual lives.

Berachos is high up on my list of topics. The reason is simple. Everyone in my audience believes in prayer, and believes in thanking G-d. They are entirely at home offering spontaneous invocations before a substantial meal. They don’t, however, pause to thank G-d before sipping a drink of water, or taking a bite out of an apple. They perk up when I explain the system of berachos, and instantly get it when I explain the rationale for differents berachos for different foods. If you believe that you, individually, are the recipient of Providential largesse, you want to make note of it. You want to savor the moment not just for having received a gift, but for the nuance and quality of the gift. G-d made eating potatoes a different experience – a different blessing – than eating grapes. That difference is memorialized in the two different berachos for the two items.

I point to the impact this has – directly or subliminally – on children. Since these audiences worry a great deal about whether their children will remain loyal to the values of their parents, this point finds its way home as well.

Do frum kids “get it” too? Entirely loath to make a case from the very small sample of one frum soon-to-be-seven year old boy, I offer it nonetheless as an illustration of what young children can be sensitized to realize are blessings in their lives. Hopefully, berachos, as well as good parenting had something to do with it. So did good schooling. The teacher at Torah Day School of Dallas should be commended for her insight in asking her students to list a hundred things they are thankful for, in honor of the 100th day of school. One mother sent me the list her son came up with, and insisted that he got very little adult assistance.

It goes without saying that the fact that the child is my grandson has absolutely nothing to do with this posting.

100 Things Yaakov is Thankful for:

1. Hashem
2. My life
3. My house
4. My room
5. My mother
6. My father
7. My brother Eli
8. My brother Meir
9. My baby Pinchas
10. My little sister Adina
11. My lego
12. That I am healthy
13. That I have a brain
14. School vacations
15. The summer
16. That I live in the USA
17. That I live in Dallas
18. That the Sun keeps us warm
19. That the Sun gives us light
20. That the moon shines at night
21. Clean air to breathe
22. Clean water to drink
23. That I woke up this morning
24. Good food
25. Ice cream
26. My bed
27. My tree house
28. Steak
29. That I am Jewish
30. That my grandparents are alive
31. That my grandparents come and visit me
32. That my grandparents buy me presents
33. That I have cousins
34. That some of my great grandparents are alive
35. That Hashem made animals
36. That Meir shares his DS with me
37. That I can walk
38. That I can talk
39. That all the parts of my body work well
40. That I don’t need glasses
41. That I am strong
42. My trampoline
43. That I can jump
44. That I can play
45. That I have clothes
46. Shabbos
47. All the Jewish holidays
48. That the world is full of colors
49. That I can sleep at night
50. That I am growing
51. That there are so many good fruits to eat
52. Healthy vegetables
53. All the different flowers
54. Trees that give us wood, and fruit and paper and shade
55. The soldiers that keep us safe
56. The police men that keep us safe
57. That we have the Torah to teach us how to act
58. The fire fighters that put out fires
59. That I have toys
60. For Doctors that help keep us healthy
61. For my uncles
62. For my aunts
63. For the rain
64. For swimming pools
65. For air conditioning in the summer time
66. For heat in the winter
67. For funny jokes
68. For barbeques
69. For birthdays
70. For parties
71. For play dates
72. For my ears that hear
73. For music
74. That I get to visit my grandparents in LA
75. That I get to go to the beach
76. That I went to New Orleans
77. That I went to Yosemite
78. That I saw the Grand Canyon
79. For medicine that helps me feel better when I am sick
80. For DVDs to watch on long car drives
81. That I have been on boats
82. That I feel safe
83. That I have a baby to snuggle
84. For my computer
85. That we have mitzvos
86. That I can wear my yarmulke outside
87. That I have brothers to play with
88. For the sewer system
89. That I can go the bathroom
90. For my bicycle
91. That my parents have cars
92. That my father is smart and can answer all my questions
93. That my mother is smart
94. That I can remember things
95. For sports to play
96. That I have running water in my house
97. That I can run fast
98. That my mother and brothers have glasses so they can see better
99. For my nice teachers
100. For the 100th day of school!!!

{Cross-Currents/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Fasinating !

    Imagine if we had to make this list in the Beis Din Shel Malah? I would be breaking a sweat!!! This is a very important lesson. Rebbe Menachem Mendel ben Yehuda ZTKL taught: What is a Chassid? A Chassid always asks “WHY.” Imagine if we all asked “why” before we did a mitzvah, learned Torah, davened, or did any maaseh? We would have to do a lot of thinking about what we are doing and THAT is a Chassid.

  2. we all have so much to be thankful for, yet are too focused on the nitty gritty negatives of life to focus on the hundreds or even thousands of good things that we have. i have an exercise in my family where every night before I put my kids to sleep, we each have to say thank you hashem for one thing that day…even my 2 year old comes up with something every night… another suggestion can be to try to say one good thing that happened to everyone in your family that week by the shabbos table…it gives you a whole new perspective on life when you’re looking out a whole day or week for that one thing to be thankful for… you usually can find more than one…try it and see for yourself

  3. I think we are mistaken to assume that this appreciation is limited to frum kids. I worked in a non-Jewish school and when we got to Thanksgiving, my class came up with close to 200 thinks to be thankful for. Maybe it’s because we are doing a good job being Ohr L’amim…