Many of us have recently celebrated or are about to celebrate the graduation of children and grandchildren from high school, college and graduate school. While for some, letting go of our children as they take this next step is difficult, all of us are excited about what the future holds for our kids. They are filled with so much potential. We pray that they discover and appreciate this potential as they begin the next chapter of their lives.
Most of us have invested a great deal of time, energy and resources into helping our children get to this moment. We want this next chapter to lead them toward a path of success. But, in today’s competitive world, what does it mean to be successful? The answer lies in the words of Rabbi Simon Ben Zoma who lived 1,800 years ago:
Who is wise? The one who learns from every person.
Who is rich? The one who appreciates what he has.
Who is honored? The one who gives honor to others.
(Pirkei Avot 4:1)
Whether they are going off to college, entering the military or starting their professional lives, may each of our graduates discover that all the people whom we encounter on our journey have wisdom to share. May our kids take the time to learn from as many people as possible and may they, in turn, share their own wisdom with the world.
Let’s hope that our children have the insight to discover how the simple things in their lives are what make them wealthy. While we want our children to be secure and comfortable, we don’t want their happiness to be defined by fancy, material possessions or diverse, financial portfolios. May our children live a life rich in meaning, a life rich in family and friends, a life made richer because they were able to make a difference in this world.
We pray that our children use the next few years to grow and develop as individuals. We want them to find their place in this world and appreciate how important they are. But, we also pray that our children realize that we are here for the sake of those with whom we share this world. May our children learn that by treating others kindly, by going out of our way to help, teach, listen, befriend and love others, we are achieving the highest level of success. May our children be honored for honoring others.
Wisdom, wealth and honor as defined by Rabbi Simon Ben Zoma 1,800 years ago – this is what we want for our children as they step into the world. May we all get what we want and may all of our children flourish.
Mazal Tov to all of our graduates and Shabbat Shalom!