This week's Parsha begins with the special circumstance in which a Jewish soldier may marry a gentile captive. However, with this exceptional Mitzvah, the Torah warns that such a union is doomed to fail. The soldier will eventually come to his senses. Their differences will surface and she will soon be hated.
A son born to this couple will become wayward. He will steal money to indulge in meat and wine, so habituating himself to the point that he will be suspect of murder. Let him be put to death now, for he is on a path of self-destruction!
An extreme progression of events this certainly seems to be!
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l sees a valuable, eternal lesson in how the marriage with the hated captive leads to the most defiant of children: To succeed in our children's Chinuch, we must build our households on the firm foundations of domestic peace, proper values, and the modeling of good behavior. To give our children the tools for success in Avodas Hashem, perhaps our greatest responsibility, it is most important to convey the proper messages.
In perhaps one of his most famous drashos, Rav Moshe warns against inadvertently undoing all the good we try to accomplish. A father sits down with his family for the Friday night Shabbos Seuda, and sighs. Keeping Shabbos is costing him business, but he does it because it is the right thing to do! The father is doing a noble act -- how he sacrifices for Shabbos! But he is giving the wrong message! The children will see in his performing mitzvos only the sacrifice and strain -- not the joy and satisfaction. They may think, chas v'shalom, it is impressive indeed that he gives up so much for the Torah, but I don’t think I can hack it! It's not for me!
The father is doing a noble act -- but he is giving the wrong message!
We have to be extremely careful about what messages we unconsciously send. With a sigh of relief at the end of a week-long Yom Tov or a long Yomim Noraim davening, one can unwittingly subvert his hard efforts in Chinuch! Let them see a sigh, of genuine longing, at the close of the elevating and joyous Yom Tov! We must convey the positive message that it is a privilege to serve Hashem, and nothing is more enjoyable and fulfilling than doing what we were created to do.
Let us carefully highlight the many joys of Yiddishkeit, and thus transmit it properly to the next generation!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!