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Thursday
Nov072019

Native Intelligence

Forty years ago, the majority of psychologists and psychiatrists assumed that young children were incapable of logical thought. They argued that children were irrational because they did not understand the relationship between cause and effect.

However, recent studies have turned this assumption on its head. When researchers observed the behavior of children, rather than just their responses to questions, they could see that children experiment, form hypotheses, and draw conclusions in a primitive, intuitive way. In this way children discover many basic principles in physics and biology, at a fantastic speed and intensity.

These findings led researchers to study more deeply the learning processes of infants and small children. What they discovered was astounding. They proved that infants had rudimentary knowledge of mathematics and could apply statistical analysis. Relying on a few direct experiences and observations, they were able to predict the future, focus on the essentials and interpret subtle differences in sounds and facial expressions. Some researchers now believe that children must be born with a basic understanding of human psychology—otherwise, how could they learn all this so quickly?

***

Of course, from a Torah perspective we believe that babies are born knowing quite a lot. While a child is in the womb it studies Torah with the angels. At birth the angel strikes the child on the lip to make him forget, but the imprint remains in his mind, enabling him to relearn it all later. The soul descends to earth from the spiritual world, so the child at birth is closer to the true reality than we are. This, perhaps, is why children have an intuitive grasp of G-dliness and spirituality that often eludes adults. As we grow, we learn more and more but we also forget—our memories of that original spiritual world fade away.

Because children are closer to the source and have an innate knowledge of truth, they will be the first to recognize Moshiach. This is the reason that the Lubavitcher Rebbe instructed parents to be very careful with the images they present to small children. From the earliest age, babies should be surrounded by holiness. Even their toys and clothing should not feature any non-kosher animals. This is how we raise this generation, the final generation of exile that will soon become the first generation of Geulah.

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