A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. — Proverbs 13:1
If you want to get a glimpse into the future, take a look at the children of today. You’ve heard it before — today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. For some, that’s a scary thought; for others, it might inspire hope. It depends on which children you know and how much you know about the youth of the world. However, we can all appreciate that the little people we see now will be big one day and that the future of humanity lies in their hands.
Appreciating this perspective should make us rethink the way we treat our children and youth. It should lead us to question how much time and money we as a society invest in our youth. It should lead us to be more sensitive and thoughtful when it comes to the children we encounter regularly in our lives and also to consider the well-being of children thousands of miles away.
King Solomon taught us in Proverbs, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.” Now, there are many ways to understand this verse. One way that some Jewish commentators explain it is that because of the father’s instruction, the son turned out wise, while a child who grows up to be nothing but trouble was not rebuked or disciplined when a child.
As the saying goes, “spare the rod, spoil the child,” which is just another way of expressing that if we really love our children, we will do whatever we can to help them thrive — even if that includes scolding them at times.
This teaching is built on the fact that our childhood experiences help shape and form who we are as adults. Some amazing people are able to take a terrible childhood and become fantastic adults anyway, but for the most part, children who are raised well are the ones who turn out well.
We need to take this concept and expand it beyond our own families. While it is true and necessary that we must work hard to give our own children positive experiences in childhood, consequences for inappropriate behavior when necessary, and provide them with opportunities that will help them thrive, we also need to do what we can to help all children around the world. Not just because it is the moral thing to do, but also because it is the best thing we can do to ensure a better future for everyone.
Today, consider contributing to a charity that helps children. No child should be hungry, hurt, or afraid. As we take care of all God’s children, we pave the way for a brighter future – not just for our own children, but for all children of the world.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President