Our Sages explain that the opening verse of our Torah reading teaches us lihazhir gedolim al hakatanim, which literally translates as “to warn the elders concerning the children.” Implied is that a parent must take responsibility for the education of his children. We cannot sit back passively and expect their education to happen naturally. It won’t. Unless effort is invested - personal effort, not merely, relying on teachers and schools - a child’s character will not grow. In that vein, the Rebbe Rashab taught that just as the Torah requires us to put on tefillin every day, it requires us to spend half an hour each day thinking about our children’s education.

The term lihazhir contains a further allusion. Zohar, its root, means “shining” or “splendor.” We can infer that by working to educate our children, our own souls will shine in splendor. For the most effective means through which a parent educates a child is by example. When a parent continuously and systematically manifests a virtue in his or her conduct, it would be highly unlikely for his or her child not to possess it. Our deeds speak far louder than our words. Therefore to make an impression on our children, the qualities and character traits which we want to impart must shine within our own personalities.

There is also a reciprocal effect. As we endeavor to communicate and teach our children, we grow ourselves. The positive traits which we deem important - and therefore seek to impart - become reinforced and strengthened through sharing them with others.