Susan notices changes in her son.

Lately, his words and expressions are different, coarser to her ear. His mode of dress, too, has altered. It is not a major transformation, but a few small things with which he has “updated” his wardrobe. His moods, too, have become so volatile. He claims to be happy with his new group of friends, but intuitively Susan questions whether he’s being true to himself.

Susan wonders if she should be concerned. Maybe she is overreacting.

But a nagging voice inside her conjectures that perhaps these small changes are a warning signal portending something more significant…

In the Torah readings of Vayak’hel and Pekudei, Moses conveyed G‑d’s instruction regarding the making of the Tabernacle. A team of “wise-hearted” artisans were called upon to make the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

And those who are wise in heart among you shall come and make all that G‑d commanded. . . . the tabernacle, its tent and its cover . . . the ark and its poles . . . the table . . . the menorah for light . . . and the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the courtyard and their ropes . . .” (Exodus 35:10–18)

Regarding the last item cited above, Rashi explains:

The Pegs: These were driven into the ground and tied to the ends of the tapestries, so that the tapestries would not be blown by the wind.

The pegs were a sort of copper nails, made for the tapestries that served as the tent-covering of the Tabernacle and the cloth walls of the courtyard, to hold these in place so that the wind would not blow them to and fro. Like all the other major utensils of the Tabernacle, these pegs needed to be made by those who were “wise of heart.”

Understandably, the main components of the Tabernacle—the tapestries themselves, the ark, the altar, and so forth—needed to be made by artisans who would proficiently design these utensils according to G‑d’s will, permeating their work with a suitable holiness. But why was it necessary for the “pegs” and “ropes”—seemingly extraneous minutiae—to be made by those who were wise of heart?

Every individual is a “tabernacle,” a holy edifice, replete with potential for housing G‑d’s will. In helping to “construct” our children, we cannot simply impart knowledge or teach skills; we must also build personality and develop character.

Imparting values is accomplished through the major as well as minor details of our children’s lives. Even small, extraneous issues that may seem insignificant—like the pegs and ropes of the Tabernacle—must not be overlooked, but must be dealt with, with patience, perseverance, and wisdom of the heart.

The outside “winds” of foreign values can be alluring. These fiercely blowing winds can uproot the values we work so hard to instill. Our role as parents is to make sure that even the pegs and ropes are implanted firmly, so that the walls and tapestries do not blow in the wind, and that our children do not become swept down a deviant path.

It may begin with a small thing—such as a “peg” that is out of place—a minor facet of his character development, or a trivial variance in his behavior. Is your child displaying a sad, downcast mood that doesn’t seem to pass? Has he made a stinging remark that is out of character? Is she suffering from a loss of appetite? Has she changed her mode of dress to fit in with a group?

Taking care of the details of our child’s life means not neglecting the little “pegs” grounding his values. Making our children cognizant of these finer points—and knowing how to step in at the appropriate moments with the necessary guidance and sensitivity—requires someone who is truly wise of heart.