Motivating my children Chana and Berel to come with me to synagogue on Shabbat morning isn't very difficult; all that's needed is a subtle reminder about "the candy." While many synagogues have a kindly "candy man" — usually the most beloved person in the congregation — I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and attend "770," the central synagogue located in Lubavitch World Headquarters, where there is no traditional candy man. The candy is however plentiful, due to the many grooms who make a point of receiving their pre-wedding aliyah in this holy venue, where the Rebbe prayed for many decades.

Aside for those weeks (such as the current period of the Omer Counting, or the Three Weeks of mourning in the summer) when weddings are not allowed, literally each of the aliyahs is reserved for a chattan (groom). The bimah platform is jammed with children jousting for better positioning, eagerly awaiting the finish of each aliyah when bags of candy rain down from all directions.

Even more than their desire for candy is the satisfaction and pride they take in their catching prowess.When the Torah reading is concluded, the children file off the bimah with their precious booty in hand. The more experienced candy-catchers will be carefully clutching to their chest as many as 10-15 bags of sweets.

Recently I was thinking about the possibility of implementing a more orderly and fair system. Perhaps the children should all be seated on a few benches, the bags collected and evenly distributed amongst them. On second thought, however, I realized that such a move would defeat the whole purpose. Yes, the children want the candy; but even more than their desire for candy is the satisfaction and pride they take in their catching prowess. They don't want to be given anything; they need to earn it. In fact, since it is Shabbat, the children cannot take any of the bags home with them. So after catching two or three bags they really have more than enough candy to last them the remaining hour until the services end. But that thought barely enters their mind in their quest for "greatness."

Children grow up, but human nature never changes. Adults are driven by the same psychology, emotional needs and urges which drive children. The difference is twofold: a) Due to experience and maturity their goals change. Money instead of candies. Social status instead of toys. (Or perhaps, sophisticated toys instead of Go Fish...) b) Most importantly, the adult has learned to curb much of his natural instincts and impulses. No, he hasn't really changed, but he has learned to project himself in an appropriate manner. He won't ask for dessert before the meal has started, but he still wants it. He won't tell an obese person, "My, you have gained a lot of weight!" but he thinks it... The inner motor which drives him hasn't changed. He has learned to rein it in, but it still sets and motivates his goals and ambitions.

This is why studying children's behavior is so helpful in understanding adult behavior. Learn how to speak to a child, and you will know how to speak to an adult too. All the lessons we are taught regarding educating children — such as constructive attention, rewarding positive behavior and avoiding confrontation — apply too adults too. The difference is that the child will overtly ignore words which he dislikes, while the cultured adult will politely feign interest. Speak to the inner child, and the person will listen. Speak to the adult façade, and you will be ignored.

Speak to the inner child, and the person will listen. Speak to the adult façade, and you will be ignoredWe are currently in the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot. On Passover G‑d shlepped us out of Egypt and its depraved and immoral culture, but then He demanded of us to embark on a seven-week period of self-refinement and quest for spirituality in order that we be worthy of receiving the Torah on Shavuot. Just as G‑d miraculously took us out of Egypt, He could just have easily transformed us into a refined spiritual nation. If He wanted to truly demonstrate His boundless love for us, could He not have spared us the emotionally grueling challenge of soul-searching and self-betterment?

But go hand out candies to the kids and see how much they appreciate it.

My son Berel is only four years old. He is no match for the pre-adolescent expert candy catchers who are much taller, and whose years of experience have finely honed their catching skills. Instead, he stands beside me next to the bimah platform and hopes that I can catch a bag tossed by someone with bad aim.

As soon as the Torah reading starts he turns to me and pleadingly asks, "Totty (Daddy), will you catch a bag for me?"

"I will do my best," I respond.

Thirty seconds later I feel a tug at my sleeve. My son again has an important question. "Totty, will you catch a bag for me?"

"I will try," is the answer again.

This question and answer repeat themselves countless times until the end of the Torah reading. If I manage to catch a bag, the question changes to: "Totty, will you catch another bag for me?"

During this seven-week period we will work on becoming more spiritual and refined. We will take pride in our achievement. But when all is said and done, the ultimate goal is beyond our ability to reach on our own; it is a wish which only our Father can grant.

And we won't stop pestering Him until our wish is granted.

Father, bring an end to our suffering. Send us the Moshiach. Your little child is counting on you.