I recently visited an Assisted Living in White Plains, and had the opportunity to meet an inspiring 89 year old gentleman. He grew up in the area, and has a beautiful family today. I had met him several times in past visits to the facility, and we had had the opportunity to talk, reminisce, and even study a bit. 

This visit, something extraordinary happened. My friend has some difficulty with his memory. Yet when we started to speak about his bar Mitzvah in 1943, he began to repeat to me, verbatim, his entire Bar Mitzvah speech - in flawless Yiddish. Seventy six years later.

I was amazed. Here was a man who, despite sometimes struggling with memory loss, had his Bar Mitzvah speech down pat, ready to roll - in Yiddish no less (which he can no longer speak). He seemed to have been taught his Bar Mitzvah in such a positive way, that he still connected with it three quarters of a century later.

This reminded me of a tremendously important rule in life, that we oft forget: What we want our children to be, we cannot teach them. We need to show them. 

I'd like to share a teaching from the Kabbalah (the mystical writings of the Torah), that illustrates this very rule.

The Zohar, a primary book of Kabbalah written two millennia ago, writes that 'wisdom refines' ('בּחכמה אתברירו'). What this means, is that true wisdom has the power to discern the right from the wrong, the good from the evil, through a 'refining' process - recognizing what's right, while rejecting what's wrong.

Chassidic philosophy expounds on this concept, and explains that while wisdom can discern right from wrong, that is only if the thinker already has a deep sense of right and wrong within their soul, and uses his or her wisdom to separate one from the other, based on that deep awareness.

But where does one receive that deep awareness itself? That, Chassidic philosophy teaches, cannot be taught. It can only be instilled through care, through love we receive from our parents, friends and family, through joy, positive experiences, and through connecting with others. 

My friend's Bar Mitzvah speech, back in 1943, was not just learned - we can forget things that we've learned today the very next morning. It was instilled. Those who taught it to him did not teach him. They inspired him. 

He remembered his parents teaching it to him, his joy when he said the speech, and the pride that he felt while saying it. Such learning goes far beyond mere wisdom alone, and therefore stayed with him for decades.

When we are blessed to be an influencer, someone who can inspire and lead others (we all are, whether to our children, family, friends or colleagues), let's remember that if we'd like to teach them and help them grow, we cannot rely on facts and instruction alone. We need to instill, care, love, and inspire.

Rabbi Avrohom