My wife and I disagree about the tooth fairy. We both know it doesn't exist; that's not the debate. The debate is whether it is a dangerous thing to teach our kids. She says it’s harmful to fool kids because when they discover it is not true, they won't trust you. But I think it’s important to develop a child's imagination, and the world of fairies does just that. What do you think?


I don't think the tooth fairy is all that dangerous, but why spark a child’s imagination with made-up characters when we can do so with real imaginary characters?

Yes, that's right. In Jewish thought we have real imaginary characters. Real because they actually do exist; imaginary because we can only perceive them with our imaginative faculties.

One example is the teaching of the two yetzers. Each of us has two angelic forces within us vying for control over our lives. One is the yetzer tov, the inner voice of goodness that encourages us to live an upright, moral life. The other is the yetzer hara, the evil voice inside us that prods us to make selfish and immoral choices.

Every time we choose well, the evil voice is weakened and our inner goodness is strengthened. But if we choose badly, our evil side celebrates while our good side is undermined.

Children respond very well to this teaching. They know what it means to fight; kids do that all the time. When you turn their belligerence inwards by personifying their inner evil, it brings the battle for morality to life. It is no longer just, “Be a good little kid,” and “Don't be naughty,” but becomes, “Don't let the yetzer hara win!” and “Good for you, you are making your yetzer tov stronger!”

Instead of rewarding kids for losing a tooth, how about rewarding them for not losing their temper? This is more than just developing a child's imagination, it’s developing their moral muscle.

Forget the tooth fairy. Our imaginary characters are very real.