Is it right to impose your values on your children? To what extent are parents responsible for the way their children behave? What if parents and children don’t see eye to eye?
These questions are profoundly complex and emotionally charged. After all parents love their children more then anything else and as a result their intentions are almost always inspired by wanting what they think is in their children’s best interest.
However there is one key ingredient which in many cases is overlooked.
We find an allusion to this in our weekly Torah portion. In relaying G‑d’s command to kindle the Menorah the verse uses the words “When you raise up the lamps.” Rashi explains that this means the priest should apply the flame to the wick “until the flame rises on its own,” and shines independently its own unique light.
This teaches us an incredibly powerful lesson in the way we raise our children. Yes it is certainly true that we have a profound responsibility to imbue our children with the timeless Jewish values which we received from our parents, who in turn received it from theirs, going all the way back to Moses.
This is especially true in our times when there seems to be a concerted effort to strip the next generation of any vestige of traditional moral values.
However it is just as important to remember that as we ignite the candle - the soul of our children - we must be sensitive and patient in allowing for the flame to rise up on its own enabling our children to discover their unique light.
This process of igniting the flame was strictly speaking the obligation of the High Priest in temple times. Metaphorically speaking however it is a timeless imperative for all Jews. We all have an obligation to kindle the flame of our fellow Jews. We do this by imparting a Torah thought or inspirational story that will lift the spirits of our brothers and sisters.
However in so doing so we must be sensitive to each and every person’s unique circumstances and perspectives. Only then are we able to light up the world with the purest and brightest light.