Long Lasting Effects
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, Yaakov tells Yosef that your sons that were born before I came down to Egypt, Ephraim and Menashe, are mine. Rashi understands the statement to mean that Yaakov has a greater connection with the sons born before he came down to Egypt than to Yosef’s future children that would be born while he would reside in Egypt. Rashi notes that this statement also has a practical application. Only these two sons born before Yaakov’s arrival are to be counted as part of the twelve tribes and receive an inheritance in the land of Israel. A question then arises. Wouldn’t it be natural to assume that the sons born while Yaakov is living in Egypt would have a greater connection with Yaakov being raised under his guidance as opposed to the sons who were already grown when their grandfather arrived?
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Zatzal says this passuk illustrates a great lesson about chinuch – educating our children. Yaakov’s message to Yosef was simply defining successful parenting. He is saying to Yosef that the chinuch I, Yaakov, gave you enabled you to raise your children true to the values of Torah even in a foreign land without my presence.
Educating one’s children to learn the values that are dear to us is a daunting task, and its true measure of success is recognized even more so when one’s children leave home and take those lessons with them. Therefore, a parent does not have to be close by watching every move his/her child makes. Parents need to give their children the tools, life lessons, and values to trust to make the right choices wherever they may be.
May we all see to follow in the footsteps of our forefather Yaakov and instill in our children a deep appreciation of who we are and for what we live.