A few weeks ago, my wife was reading our four-year-old a book describing how we all have two voices inside us, one pulling down and one pulling up. It describes in detail the things the yetzer tov says and the things the yetzer hara says. When done, my wife reminded our son to stay in bed, kissed him goodnight, and went into another room.
Sixty seconds later, a little figure appeared next to her. When asked why he was out of bed, he answered, “’Cause I’m listening to my yetzer hara!”
I learned two things:
- The yetzer hara is already inside us. If we do too good a job describing him, it emboldens him. Perhaps instead we should focus most of our energy describing what the yetzer tov would do.
- The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dovber, once said, “Just as it is a biblical commandment to put on tefillin every day, so too is it incumbent upon us to spend 30 minutes a day thinking how we can get the children to follow in the ways they are taught.” First, they are taught, and then as parents we need to figure out how to help them follow in these ways.
The simplest way of doing this is by being a living example. If we are an example of what it means to be calm, our children will know the taste of being calm. If we are happy for others, our children will see the beauty of being gracious. If we value learning and study, they will cherish it as well.
A story along these lines is told by Dr. Ira Weiss of Chicago. He was one of the Rebbe’s doctors beginning in 1977. Amongst other things, he says the Rebbe once told him that “just like it’s a mitzvah to put on tefillin, so too is it a mitzvah to drink tea with your wife every day. I do so myself.”
Perhaps that’s the real way. When there’s harmony in the home, and the children see their parents being respectful to each other, they will then want to be a part of it and follow in their ways.
May this Tisha B’av be the first one we will celebrate as a yom tov.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,