Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. — Proverbs 22:6
In Israel, it's common for schoolchildren to take public transportation. One morning, a young boy got on the city bus in Jerusalem. There were a lot of people jamming onto the bus that day, so the bus driver let everyone on first and then let the people pay as they made their way to a spot to stand for the duration of the ride.
The young boy approached the driver to pay for his ticket, but the driver insisted that the boy had already paid. In the chaos of everyone getting on, the driver was sure the boy had forgotten. The boy was equally as sure that he hadn't paid. The driver was adamant and would not take money from the boy. Defeated, the boy walked to the nearest pole, held on, and began to sob.
When an older man asked him what was wrong, he cried out, “I'm not a thief! I'm not a thief!” That sweet innocent boy was crying because, by not letting him pay, the bus driver inadvertently made the boy a “thief.” The person who shared this story remarked about what amazing parents this boy must have. I thought about how if this is how he is as a child, imagine what an honest, wonderful, human being he will become as an adult.
In Proverbs we read, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”One sure way to turn out amazing adults is to raise great kids. Our children only get one childhood, which impacts them the rest of their life, so we need to do all we can to teach them well.
However, I think there is another lesson here for us adults as well. Just as childhood is practice and training for adulthood, every day of our lives is practice and training for the moments that count the most.
If you want to have unwavering faith in the face of a challenge, strengthen your faith today. If you want to do a great act of kindness one day, do small acts of kindness every day. If you want to be able to hold your temper on a day you are deeply and unexpectedly provoked, practice patience now. If we set ourselves on the right path today, we will not stray from it in the future.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President