One of the Jewish concepts that I like is the need to be kind to animals. There is a belief that if you own animals you are supposed to feed them before you sit down to eat yourself. Now if you own a pet or two, it is one thing but if you work on a farm or take care of animals in a barn, it is quite another.
I like the concept because it teaches that we not only have an obligation to human beings but to ALL creatures. Still, when I became a parent a number of years ago, I did not realize I would be hosting a zoo in my house. My son has a lot of stuffed animals and when I walk into his room, it feels like I am walking into a zoo.
This week, there are actually two zoos in the house. My niece is up visiting and she travels with her stuff animals. As I walked past where she is staying, it felt like I was passing another zoo as all her animals were spread out over the bed.
The truth is, stuffed animals can help to teach children about responsibility. And, since a number of my son’s stuffed animals are Webkinz, that too can help teach lessons about responsibility and caring. I realize that it can take a lot of time and can be annoying. Still, after the pets are registered, you have to go to the website to make sure they are virtually fed and virtually played with. The animals also need to be taken to the vet, looked after and they need to receive a lot of TLC.
By doing all this, the child learns about caring for others, for animals (and maybe even for people). Yes, homework comes first. Yes, my son does not need to be on the computer all the time, but when he is, I feel he learns some good values from this website, and some good values that, while the people who run the website may not know, tie into Judaism.