Perhaps you’re familiar with the scene in the Bible where Moses—aided by God—parts the Red Sea. It was a miracle of epic proportions that allowed the Israelites to race through and escape the Egyptians who were chasing them. Lesser known about the miracle is what happens next. When Moses released the sea, the Egyptians were trapped. The water crashed around them and thousands perished.
Naturally, the Israelites broke out in song and celebration. As the angels went to join them, God rebuked them, according to the Talmud. “How dare you sing for joy,” it was written, “when My creatures are dying.”
Now whether any of this actually happened or not doesn’t change the lesson. It is easy in the midst of victory and success to think of how wonderful this is for you. It’s also easy to forget who or what your “winning” might have come at the expense of. We must be careful not only to be good sports in this life, but empathetic and caring enough to realize that things are not always as great for other people as they are for us. Proverbs 24:17 expresses it well: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth.”
It’s these kinds of ancient and timeless lessons that we must pass along to our children (to say nothing of following ourselves). If you are reading this email, you are privileged in some way. You can afford a computer. You are alive. You are literate. You are lucky enough to have children and know that they are safe. Fate has not been so kind to everyone else. There are others out there drowning. Somebody at a factory in China had to make the computer or smartphone you are looking at right now. Others didn’t get to go to school. They have no help, no one is looking out for them.
You can still enjoy what you have and you should still want to win in life. But don’t be so clueless and self-absorbed as to not care that other people are suffering. And don’t raise children who are indifferent to it either.