Upon learning he is to have a child, Manoah father of Samson, speaks for all parents when he cries out to God, “What shall we do with the child who will be born to us?” (Judges 13:8). Each generation wonders — what is the best way to raise children, and what ought we to be teaching them?
In the relentless parade of scandals, we are teaching our children that nobility is a facade. Sports heroes, politicians and stars all fall to the predictable glee of a predatory public. On much of our social media, there is more wit than wonder, more snark than honest searching for ideals. Local news is a pageant of small horrors, and international news a recounting of crises across the globe. And our kids learn that financial aspirations are the only “realistic” ones to make one’s way in this world.
In this chorus of jangled nerves and tattered ideals, the Torah is clear: We are imperfect but human beings are destined for nobility. Failure, rather than feeding our cynicism, should nourish our resolve. Teach your children to aim for great things. “I will pour out My spirit on all flesh: Your sons and daughters shall prophesy.” (Joel 3:1)
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), is just out.