Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman
After the flood, the Torah describes an incident where Noach planted a vineyard and drank a little too much and became drunk. As he was lying immodestly in his inebriated state, Shem and Yefes, his sons, covered him showing respect for their father. Rashi points out that the verse, Vayikach shem vayefes es hasimla, says vayikach (and he took), the singular form, not vayikchu (they took), the plural form, which is confusing since they both participated in the act. Rashi states that the singular form was purposely used to teach us the importance of how a mitzvah is executed. Since Shem’s performance of the mitzvah was completed with more heart than Yefes’ was, his reward was much greater. His children merited the mitzvah of tzizis, the mitzvah of wearing tzizis (fringes), a mitzvah that is done daily while his brother’s children were only guaranteed a one-time reward, a proper burial if killed during war.
Rashi’s explanation illustrates not only the importance of how we do a mitzvah, but the powerful responsibility that we as parents and teachers have as role models for our children. Two people did the same exact mitzvah, yet their rewards were worlds apart. From this we learn that the execution of a mitzvah entails two parts, the physical action of completing the mitzvah and the way we do it. Are we putting our hearts into it? Are we connected to what we are doing or just going through the motions?
As parents, it is our duty to take advantage of the many opportunities that arise to demonstrate the beauty of mitzvos to our children. Excitement, preparation and joy of doing mitzvos can easily be transmitted to our children if we take the time to put our hearts into it. It may just mean an extra minute or two, but the results will be everlasting.