Minute #658: Mentors

“What a lovely group of girls,” Mrs. Morgenstern said. “And each brought such a nice gift for you.”

“Mom,” Batsheva said, “I’m so happy!”

“Tonight you can get some rest, but I think it’s important that you write thank-you cards to every girl tomorrow so that you don’t get distracted and neglect to show appreciation.”

“You’re right, Mom,” Batsheva replied. “I have so many events coming up in the next couple of weeks. We have production and then Chessed Day — not to mention final exams. Thanks, Mom, you always know the right thing to do!”

Maybe the new busy lifestyle, the two-income family, the media’s negative influences or reduced family time is the cause, but the effect is that even basic manners must be taught today. The process of behavioral osmosis died with the advent of the modern lifestyle. Even saying “thank you” must be taught.

There are so many behaviors that adults take for granted, of which children are not even aware. Once upon a time, children grew up in a controlled environment called “home.” The adults behaved in certain ways and reacted to situations based on shared community values. The overall basics were the same all over the world, and each geographic area had its own nuances and variations layered onto shared mores. The parents were mentors consciously and sub-consciously, “teaching” 24/7.

Today, things have changed. Parental influence has been diluted by exposure — via the media or the less-than-stellar example of public figures — to other value systems, many of them antithetical to our Torah values. Extra effort must be exerted by all parents in their role as mentors to ensure that the values we share universally continue to be transmitted to the next generation of parents.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

To understand the severity of lashon hara and its ramifications, one must first understand the judicial system in Heaven through which people are judged. The Chofetz Chaim explains that the Heavenly judicial process is initiated by words which Jews speak on this world. Our negative conversations are the key which opens the door for Satan to prosecute. (Michael Rothschild with Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion, p. 6)