Both of these Divrei Torah are resonant with the story of the woman that came to the Rebbe and said, "Rebbe, I had a baby a month ago, and I want to know what I can do to make sure he will grow up to be a great tzadik." The Rebbe answered, Rebbitzen, you are coming to me ten months late.
There are no guarantees in life, and certainly not when it comes to raising children. But there are things that do make a difference.
The first discussion is from Reb Akiva Eiger (as brought in Tallelei Oros and Iturei Torah):
The beginning of Parshas Tazria talks about childbirth. The end of Parshas Shmini describes which species of animals we may eat (the Tahor) and which we may not eat (the Tamei). The Torah sums up the parsha of kashrus with the passuk (11:47)
A recent study in Korea examined music’s influence on spatial learning ability in developing rats to show that Mozart Effect is strongest during neurogenesis, specifically in the hippocampus where spatial reasoning is most active. Their procedure was similar to that of CNLM’s spatial task study, however, their focus was on prenatal music exposure, rather than exposure after birth. Impregnated female rats were randomly divided into three groups; Noise-applied Group, Music-applied Group, and a control group, Undisturbed Group which was left in silence.
Twenty-one days after the rats gave birth, the pups were subjected to a spatial learning ability test which involved the pups finding water in a radial arm maze. The music-applied pups had the highest number of correct choices in the radial arm maze.
The results of this study suggest that prenatal exposure to classical music in pups does help facilitate brain development in the hippocampus. They also support the idea that, when applied during neurogenesis, the Mozart Effect is longer lasting, and may even be permanent. However, results with human participants are subject to variability (Department of Physiology Kyung Hee University 2006).
בְּטֶרֶם אֶצָּרְךָ בַבֶּטֶן יְדַעְתִּיךָ, וּבְטֶרֶם תֵּצֵא מֵרֶחֶם הִקְדַּשְׁתִּיךָ
There are two halves in the passuk.
I knew you before I formed you.
Before you came out of the womb I sanctified you.
I believe that these two halves involve totally different concepts. The first half means "I, Hashem, knew that you would be a holy man and a navi. This knowledge is like any knowledge of nevu'ah, the simple fact that Hashem knows what the future holds. The second half of the passuk means "Knowing that you were going to be a tzadik and dedicated to My service, I protected you from unholy experiences."
B. That people are born with tendencies, both physical and spiritual. What we make of those tendencies is the difference between an Eisav and a David Hamelech. Both were warriors, both were redheads, but one was Eisav and one was David Hamelech.
3. Here's an interesting coincidence. We just saw in the Gemara in Yoma, above, about Reb Yochanan, how his mother was calmed down by the whispered reminder of the kedusha of Yom Kippur. There is a Gemara in Taanis 21 that echoes this story line.