It was early one morning sometime before Yom Kippur when Reb Shmuel Munkes, a well known chossid, met a peasant praying fervently.

Reb Shmuel approached the peasant, who wasn’t usually seen in shul at this early hour, and asked him what brought him to shul so early.

“Rabbi,” he said, “Yom Kippur is approaching. Everything is at stake. I’m praying that my cow should continue to give milk and my chickens should continue to lay eggs!”

The rabbi turned to the peasant and exclaimed, “Dear friend, Yom Kippur is coming!! Let’s put the chickens and cows aside. We’ve got to focus here…”

Many of us can certainly relate to the peasant. We express concern over monetary issues and prioritize our business over other matters. But, what about expressing concern–genuine concern–for spiritual growth? What happened to sincerely caring about moral values or improving our character?

In this week’s parshah, we read about the mishkan, the sanctuary that the Jews built in the desert. When the Jews entered the mishkan they felt its holiness. Within its walls they appreciated spiritual growth, ethical principles, and the value of education.

We should all create a personal miniature mishkan around us where we sense the importance of spiritual matters such as moral values. We need to convey that feeling to our children from a young age to instill it in their hearts. This can only happen through genuine concern. At home, when you discuss the importance of having a good education as much as you talk about your financial assets then it will leave an impression on your child.

My mentor in yeshiva once said, “It is a well-known fact that words that come from the heart enter the heart.” His eyes began to tear as he continued, “If my students do not behave as befits … it’s my fault.” His heartfelt words, conveying honest concern, made an impression on all of us.

Let your children feel that genuine concern for their growth.

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