Is it right to impose our values on our children? To what extent are we as parents responsible for the way our children behave? What if parents and children don’t see eye to eye?
These questions are profoundly complex and emotionally charged. After all we love our children more then anything else. Consequently we desire for our children what we believe is in their best interest.
However there is a key ingredient which we often overlook.
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 the priest should apply the flame to the wick “until the flame rises on its own,” and shines its own unique light.
This teaches us a powerful lesson in the way we raise our children. Yes it is true that we have a profound responsibility to imbue our children with the timeless Jewish values which we received from our ancestors, going all the way back to Moses.
This is especially true in our times when there is a concerted effort to strip the next generation of any vestige of traditional moral values.
However we must also remember that as we ignite the candle - the soul of our children - we should be sensitive and patient in allowing for their flame to rise up on its own. By doing so we are enabling our children to discover their own unique light.
This process of igniting the flame was the obligation of the High Priest during temple times. However, metaphorically speaking it is a timeless imperative for all Jews.
Each and every one of us has the obligation to kindle the flame of our fellow Jews. We do this by imparting a kind message, a Torah thought or an inspirational story which will lift the spirits of our brothers and sisters. However, at the same time we must be sensitive to every person’s unique circumstances and perspectives. Only then are we able to light up the world with the purest and brightest light.