"Hide What You Want Him To Seek!"
Gandalin commenting on Teaching Sensitive Topics In Chumash:
Please let me examine a few minor sidelights.
1) The language of Tanakh is so wonderful, in that the words are multifaceted and, I think, very clear on each of many levels, so that each of us, at whatever age, can put ourselves in a position where we can "relate" to the stories, and, hence, we can orient our receivers to the frequencies that Tanakh is using to broadcast the Divine revelation to our neshomohs. Depending on our level, and on the quality of our receivers, we will receive more or less of the revelation, and different aspects of it, but it is all good, and all important. Each time we connect with the transmission, we have the opportunity to derive more, and to have our receivers open up to "higher" levels. With respect to Yehuda & Tamar, as tinokim we don't understand the full depth of the story, but we can perceive the change in Yehuda's attitudes, and we can learn that it is worthwhile to acknowledge responsibility for our own actions.
2) In the secular world in which I grew up, many times as a child I was told not to read a certain work of literature, because I was too young to understand it. Having a reasonably good command of the language, I didn't appreciate what that really meant, and thought that I could certainly understand any book if I understood what the individual words were. But of course there were many things that I did not understand. And upon re-reading certain books later in life, I perceived many things, and appreciated many things, to which I had been completely oblivious as a child. The stories in the Tanakh also yield an incredible depth when they are confronted by a prepared mind. To some extent, literature and Tanakh are like a mirror, and if a monkey looks in, a philosopher doesn't look out. By virtue of repeated and concerted study, however, and with the learning that comes from being buffeted by the storms of life, we can derive more and more.
3) Children in many cultures are exposed to stories that appear to be horrific on some level, and they do (we do) take it in stride. The European folklore collected by the brothers Grimm is replete with murders, cannibalism, incest, warfare, pestilence, and suffering. The stories of the Tanakh include sibling murder, adultery, incest, drunkenness, warfare, treachery, and plagues. Perhaps the best way to be exposed to these realities of the world as it is, is through exposure to Tanakh in childhood, and this exposure will be a sort of inoculation, so that as we mature and understand more and more of what is at stake, we will in fact be less shocked and our neshomohs less injured than we might be if we confronted the full adult meaning of these phenomena "cold." Rabbi Sears recently wrote about Buddhism in these pages; well, the biography of the man who "discovered" the principles of Buddhism, the Buddha, is that he was an extremely rich and privileged prince living somewhere around Nepal, and that he had been sheltered from even the slightest knowledge that old age, sickness, and death even existed in the world, until one day, as a young adult, he discovered all three -- that set him on his quest. By exposing the child to small doses of reality from a young age, we may protect his neshomoh from such a shock.
3) It is certainly true that hiding something may make the child search for it with ever greater intensity. So make sure you hide what you want him to seek!