Reader and frequent commentor "Anonymous Mom" asks in the comments section to last post:
I'm hoping the readers might have some answers for her.
I have a Purim-related question. I just found out that the learning for boys that has become en vogue in many Shuls on Purim morning is often sponsored by people financially so that they can get the merits of the learning or some other Zechus for their family. In other words, the boys are being told that if they learn for an hour in the Shul after Megillah, they will get a door prize, plus be entered for a big-ticket item such as an IPOD or expensive bike. I found this out because we asked the Shuls in our area if they could give the boys the name of a sick relative of ours to keep in mind and say Tehillim for while they are there and we were told we would have to cough up some money. Every Shul, but one had the same response. Any thoughts on this?
I think my readers know my feelings on rewards, especially expensive rewards. I want to add one thing. . . .not every parent wants their child to have an IPOD! I'm one of those parents. I'm from the days of Walkmans and my parents did not allow me to have a Walkman. At the time, I thought they were the most terrible parents, not allowing me to have what "everyone" else had.
I wanted to be able to listen to music of my choice in private. My parents thought the boom box (another blast from the past) placed in my own room was enough privacy. They had their preferences in music, so if I was breaking the rules, I had to listen quietly. My parents didn't like seeing kids tuned out from their own families while on vacations, etc, as they were too busy with their walkmans.
Today, I've turned into my parents and I'm sure my own children will be crying that they are the "only" ones without an IPOD (or whatever the next new thing is).
My question would be: is it appropriate for a shul or school to offer a prize that some (terrible) parents would not want their children to receive? And, while I am not a big reward type of parent, but, since the rewards culture seems to be the prevailing culture, what rewards would be motivate teenagers and still be parent approved? (A less expensive bike would be fine by me if I could appreciate the learn for an hour and potentially win a huge reward--sorry, I just can't jump on this boat. . . . 1 hour! Come on!).
Updated: Commentor Rachel asks her own question:
"Can you claim that the Torah that was learned was Lishma? Does the zchus on non Lishma learning count? I know young kids don't usually get the concept of learning Lishma, hence the concept of rewards such as candy. But if the reward is an ipod, clearly these are bigger kids who should be able to understand Lishma. (maybe we are just extending childhood by another 5 years) Anyone knows the answer to this question?"
I'd say she is onto something.
Let the comments fly.