Letter No. 1063: Advice to the grandfather of a bar mitzvah youth on how to draw his son closer to Jewish involvement through sincere and gentle words

The name of the recipient of this letter was not released. It was sent to the grandfather of the recipient of the previous letter.

ב”ה,
23 Sivan, 5711,
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greetings and blessings,

I received your letter from Thursday, the 17th1 of Sivan. I repeat the heartfelt wishes that I extended to you while you were here — that you derive much nachas from your grandson who is celebrating his bar mitzvah, as well as from your other children and descendants. It is superfluous to elaborate to a person such as yourself that true nachas is nachas that comes from [one’s study of] Torah and [the performance of] its mitzvos.

My opinion is that you should exert your influence over your sons more powerfully to strengthen them in [the observance of] the Torah and its mitzvos. In situations like this, the general principle is to act according to our Sages’ interpretation (Shaloh Shaar HaOsios, os kuf; Shaar HaPesukim of the AriZal to this verse) of the verse:2 “The gentle words of the wise are heard,” i.e., that when the wise speak gently, their words are heard. I rely on your understanding3 regarding the ways and manners to increase your influence on them.

This point must be emphasized. There are many parents who do not fully appreciate the influence they have on their children and think that their efforts are for naught. As a result, they forfeit much of the influence they could have on their children. This, however, is an error, for parents can have a greater influence on their children than they imagine. When they make an effort in this area, they will certainly achieve much. Even if they do not achieve 100% of their goals, they will certainly accomplish a great measure [of what they desire].

Enclosed is a letter to the bar mitzvah boy.4 Since you did not [inform] me of the language in which to write to him, and since you wrote that you desire to read the letter to all the participants in the celebration for the benefit of people at large, I am writing the letter in Yiddish.

With blessings for a healthy summer for you and for all the members of your household,