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Vayeira: Youth

For one living in Sdom, there were a number of laws that had to be kept. Among them was the prohibition of taking in guests: הכנסת אורחים . This was something that was accepted and understood by every single person. As the verse states "נסבו על בית מנער ועד זקן כל העם מקצה ואנשי סדום" – and the people of Sdom gathered around the house, from youth to elders, the whole city to its edge.
In the words of Rashi: from on edge of the city to the other, they all gathered to protest this infringement of the law (of Lot taking in visitors). Lot we know has somewhat “left the fold” when he left Avraham, as we see in the fact that the place he chose to live was in Sdom. In addition it is clear he would have been destroyed together with Sdom if not for his connection with Avraham Avinu.

Being so, why did Lot go out of his way to take care of the guests knowing full well the consequences of his actions? Even to the level of sacrificing his own two daughters!
The answer we see from another quote of Rashi. The verse says: "וירא לוט וירץ לקראתם" – Lot saw them and ran towards them. Why did he run? Says Rashi: Because he had learned the art of hospitality in the house of Avraham. We see from here how important what Chazal call is: "גירסא
דינקותא" – that which was learned in one’s youth. What a child sees and experiences in his youth, is embedded deep into the Neshama, and when the time comes will give him tremendous strength and energy to stand up to all challenges, even at the cost of his own life.

Sadly many people switch things around and tend to mess about in their youth with the understanding that “one day” they will become more serious. One could not be more wrong. The success of an individual is with the tools and behavior he has acquired in his youth. And while this does not exclude the ability of an adult to make substantial changes in his life, they will always be subject to those influences that affected him as a child.

As parents our responsibility is to ensure that those experiences and influences that affect our children are those that are going to have a positive effect on the life and not, has-v’shalom, otherwise.

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