Herschel was a nice guy. He tried to please. He wasn’t one that set the trend. He dressed liked everyone else and bought the cell phone that everyone else was talking about. He was interested in the latest trends in leisure activities. When deciding on a mid-winter vacation, he had his wife call other parents from their children’s school to ask where “everyone” was going this year.
It wasn’t that Herschel wasn’t intelligent or was incapable of making an independent decision. What made Herschel a follower was that he was an immigrant who moved into a neighborhood where most of the residents had been living since birth. He wanted to please and, even more, he wanted to fit in. As soon as he arrived he became an observer and assimilated into his surroundings.
Herschel’s behavior is not unusual for an immigrant. “Melting” into the pot is the way most first-generation newcomers adapt and create a home environment that will give their offspring the best chance for success when they grow up.
A child is like an immigrant. The little one lives in a new environment and observes adults with an eye to mimic. If the adults act politely the child will probably copy their manners. If the people that the child observes look happy, he will be more likely to look at the world as a happy place in which to live. When the adults place high value on Torah ideals, mitzvot performance and fear of Heaven, the little ones who share their space will be Torah-true adults when they move on to build their own families.
From the day new parents bring home their first child, they should begin to consider themselves mentors of a new group of immigrants coming to new shores to assimilate in the ways of Torah.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
The benefit of being able to forget is: Were man unable to forget, he would always be despondent, and no happy occurrence would be sufficient to drive away his despondency. He would never derive pleasure from that which should bring him joy, for he would always remember the misfortunes that have occurred. (Chovot Halevavot, “Shaar Habechinah,” chap. 5)