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“The hidden things are for God, but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever.” What does Moses mean?

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20). With only 553 words, it happens to be the shortest Torah portion of the year — the tail end of Moses’s last sermon where he reminds the Jewish people to observe the commandments of the Torah.

This Torah portion holds a deep lesson on education. Towards the beginning of Nitzavim, Moses tells the nation, “The hidden things are for God, but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, to carry out all the words of this Torah.” (Deut 29:28)

The question is asked: What are the “hidden” and “revealed” things that this verse is referring to? Why are the “hidden” for us and the “revealed” for our children? What is that all about?

According to one interpretation, the “hidden” refers to the commandments of the Torah that build our relationship with God.

There are many commandments and responsibilities that apply between man and God. What to eat, blessings to recite, Sabbath conduct, and much more. One who transgresses these mitzvot can easily “get away with it.” Nobody will know what you ate in private or what you did on the Sabbath that might have been forbidden.

That’s all between you and God.

On the other hand, the ”revealed” commandments are mitzvot regarding our relationship with others. They are commandments and responsibilities that are done publicly. That’s why the verse specifies that they are “for us and for our children forever.”

Our children watch when we treat people with respect, judge others favorably, have honest business dealings, and generally live up to the mitzvah of “love thy neighbor.”

Our kids also notice when we treat people with discourtesy, judge others with critically, cut corners in our business dealings, and so on.

When our children see how we behave, they make their own decisions accordingly. As they say, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Whether it is at home, work, synagogue, or even the grocery stores, the way we conduct ourselves has an immediate effect on our children.

Hence, the revealed things “are for us” and “for our children forever,” as if to say, we will live with our decisions forever. And the way we raise our children will have a great effect on our grandchildren.

With Rosh Hashanah upon us, a time for reflection and resolutions, it is a perfect opportunity to ponder our parenting and the messages — whether hidden or revealed — that we pass on to our children. We want our children to appreciate the beauty of Judaism, of being good people, of being honest and upright.

May God bless us that we merit to serve as the proper role models that our children so desperately need in our day and age.

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