I love books. I am an obsessed bibliophile.
I’ve acknowledged this before, but believe it is OK; as Jews, being “the people of the book” is in our DNA. These days, however, we must also be “people of the internet.” There is so much great Jewish knowledge out there and, just as with books, we must know the source.
In “Pirke Avot,” we are told that we can learn from everyone; in other words, we should be open to learning, whether through books or blogs. Here is one story I wish to share that comes from an education blog called “Growing Leaders,” by Tim Elmore, who shares a story about his wife.
“Years ago, when our daughter was four years old, my wife took her shopping for groceries. When they returned to the car, my wife suddenly realized she had a can of green beans that she failed to pay for. So, she turned the cart around and returned the vegetables to the cashier. When she did, the young clerk did a double-take. She could not believe someone would do such an ethical thing. After all, it was just a can of green beans. So, the clerk smiled and said, ‘Thanks, but you didn’t have to do this. It’s not a big deal.’ To which my wife replied, ‘It is when your child is watching.’”
This story brings up other questions, namely, do we follow rules only because we are afraid of getting caught? If no one is watching, is it OK to cheat, steal or lie?
The mother in the story was aware that our actions tell a lot about us, and that our children are watching. Being a role model is something some don’t want to take on; athletes, entertainers and corporate leaders often wish the spotlight wasn’t on them. Yet, we must all remember that, even before phones that video our every action, we were being watched. This is because Judaism is action based. What we do matters. It matters to those watching, and it matters to each of us on how we see ourselves. As such, we should ask ourselves, what we do to demonstrate our values and ethics. So yes, to go back to the story — it is a big deal how we act when our children are watching. But, we need to remember that God is always watching.