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Conflicting Religious Standards in Divorced Family

Question: My ex-husband gets the kids for 3 days out of every 10. He has become very promiscuous now that he is single, and the kids are seeing a full range of immoral behavior. Now, I am trying to raise my children as religious Jews, and it is very difficult to teach them morality and Torah values when their father is behaving like this. Please help!

Answer: You are certainly facing a great challenge in trying to bring up your children in a Torah atmosphere, and you are to be commended for diligently seeking guidance.

I may be missing many details, so your best route may be seeking advice from a Torah mentor who is more familiar with your situation—who knows your boys and their natures—who knows you and your former husband… but I will at least share a general thought in the meantime.

You can tell your boys that you are raising them according to the Torah’s values—the highest moral standard a human being can attain—but that not everyone is able to live up to those values all the time. That is the challenge of life—why God put us here in this world.

Most people who don’t live up to Torah values fall short because they did not receive a proper Torah education. Moreover, even if they may seem to have received a good Torah education, that education may really have had a lot of holes. Nevertheless, even with the best education, we still have free will—we can still make mistakes.

You can tell you children that you are trying to raise them with the top Torah education so that they will have the greatest opportunity to make the best choices in their own lives. Ultimately, however, the responsibility will be on them—but you are confident in them and know they are capable of being extraordinary people.

Hatzlacha rabba—May you have only the greatest success in all the mitzvos you do.

Shlomo Shulman

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