Book Review: Raising Spiritual Champs Including Yourself

Raising Spiritual Champs Including Yourself by Dr. Miriam Adahan

Dr. Miriam Adahan is a brilliant author. Her words of wisdom are so practical and relatable.

She takes her understanding of how our brains work and turns it into a practical guide of how to “Raise Spiritual Champs.” The book is presented in a very easy and reader-friendly way so that anybody can succeed in “Raising Spiritual Champs.”

In Mishlei (22:6) Shlomo HaMelech the wisest of all men taught: “Train a child according to his way so that when he grows older he will not deviate from it.” In her book Miriam Adahan takes this teaching and shows us how to achieve it. Miriam will specify several different ways to implement her chinuch-teachings (educational teachings) so that it can be relevant to “train a child according to his way.” Seen in contrast to having only a single “cookie cutter” chinuch-approach. Different tactics apply to different types of children. 

For an example she writes ( on page 130) regarding cooperation tips and tricks for getting the job done. She lists 18 (!) different ways to help children get things done when needed. As an example: [for a child who loves showing his/her knowledge and prowess] Ask, “I’m not sure how to do this task. Show me how!” And [To help the type of child who responds well when challenged] Challenge him to take [his yelling] up a notch. Say “You can do better than that.” Most children will stop yelling, because instead of resisting the tantrum, you’re actually inviting it. You confused them by eliminating all resistance.

Another example [regarding children who work better at teaching younger children their skills] Ask, “Can you teach your little sister how to tie her shoes by herself?” “Can you teach your brother the alef-beis/how to count?” 

Miriam discusses how we can train our children to develop good habits. We see this in the end of the previously quoted verse in Mishlei (22:6)  “So that when he grows older he will not deviate from it,” (his good trained habit.) One example is taken from what Rav Yechezkel Levenstein zt”l would do with his children. He would give a coin to whoever would relate a story of hashgacha pratis (a clearly seen Divine intervention in one’s life.) This way his children will come to develop the habit of relating such occurrences because they get accustomed to relating them to him time after time. 

My rebbe Rav Binyomin Moskovitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Midrash Shmuel would say: “If no one will massage my ego then I will do it myself.” In this specific context one’s ego refers to one’s feelings of importance. He means that if no one else will compliment him thereby generating a massage-like feeling on my sense of importance (oooh aaah I’m soooo important, my sense of worth just became elated) then I will have to massage my ego myself! In her book Miriam addresses this very same idea of celebrating one’s victories. She writes (on page 42) “When was the last time you savored a moment of joy over a personal success? Try to recall the feeling and let that pleasure fill you again”

After going through her book, I feel that it is worthwhile to read and reread this book if one wants to know how to raise spiritual champs!

Shmuel Brodersen is a talmid of Rav Binyomin Moskovitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Midrash Shmuel, Yerushalayim. Shmuel lives in Far Rockaway, New York.