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Parashat Vayehi – Teach a Child According to His Way (Proverbs 22:6)


“Jacob blessed his sons each one according to his specific traits.”

Our sages explain this to mean that Jacob gave each son the blessing suitable and distinct for him, although he also gave them a comprehensive inclusive blessing.
A parent’s blessing is intended as a growth stimulus whose purpose is to enhance an innate potential and help bring it to fruition. Insofar as each son had his own particular strengths and talents, each received a blessing or a stimulus to develop that dominant trait. Although there was also a comprehensive blessing, the emphasis was on the uniqueness of each son.
The wise king Solomon said that this is the most effective formula for character development. How so?
Every person has unique character traits and talents which lend themselves more easily to perfection. It is these traits which should receive greatest emphasis and which a person should try to perfect. In the process of doing so, there will be a ripple effect so that other traits of lesser dominance will also be perfected. If one begins with one’s natural tendencies, which are more conducive to perfection, the self-confidence and reassurance that one gets from this facilitates development of other traits where there may be resistance to overcome.
No one said this better than the wise king Solomon when he wrote: “Train a child in the way of his abilities; He will not swerve from it even in old age.”