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In commenting on the double use of the verb “emor” and “v’amarta,” Rashi states that the lesson to be derived from this grammatical anomaly is that the elder generation is charged with instructing and guiding the younger generation. This apparently simple and very necessary and logical requirement is more difficult to implement than it was to state.

Younger generations are notoriously loath to accept advice from their elders. They feel, and perhaps correctly so, that they are entitled to make their own mistakes on their own terms. But that attitude only increases the level of pain that making fundamental errors in life decisions creates. Raising the next generation has always been a daunting challenge. And every generation feels that its challenge is greater than those of previous times.
A little reflection, a lot of tradition, a ton of patience and a strong family structure are great and usually necessary ingredients for success with the next generation. There are no guarantees, however. The Talmud taught us that there are irrational factors – good fortune or ‘mazel,’ so to speak – that are always present when raising children. Nevertheless, we are also taught that we are not freed from our obligation to attempt to succeed no matter how unlikely complete success might be.
Advice from the older generation may not be desired but it always is influential. And that influence is vital for the continuity of family life, especially traditional Jewish family life. A parent remains a parent throughout his/her lifespan. And this generational connection is the basis for our survival as a people and a civilization.  
I have written in previous years that the Torah bids the priestly clan to tell their descendants that they are the sons of Aaron. It is difficult to have a positive self-identity when one has no past to rely upon. One of the great plagues for a large section of Western society is that millions of children do not know their father, let alone any heritage from earlier generations and antecedents.
Crime, violence, psychological and social dysfunction are the products of such generational interruption. And this is true in Jewish society as well, in much of the Diaspora. The memories of Eastern European immigrants about the “golden country” have faded and in most cases disappeared, as have the hardships and sacrifices of the past. And with the disappearance of this family connection to religious observance, a traditional Jewish lifestyle also waned and many times completely vanished.
To some extent, this factor helps in understanding demographic decline in American Jewry over the past half century. There once was a time that later generations knew traditional parents and grandparents and thus were not completely ignorant of their past and heritage. But that unfortunately is certainly no longer the case. We are in a time empty of a past, mired in a terribly competitive, materialistic present and without any soaring vision for future society. It was and is the imperative of the departing generation to guide and teach the arriving generation. That is a rule of Jewish life.
Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Berel Wein 

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