Is the Tooth Fairy Dangerous?
by Rabbi Aron Moss
I am having a debate with my wife about the tooth fairy. We both know it doesn't exist, that's not the debate. The debate is whether it is a dangerous thing to tell our kids about. She says it is harmful to fool kids because when they discover it is not true, they won't trust you. I think it is important to develop a child's imagination, and the world of fairies does just that. What do you think?
I don't think the tooth fairy is all that dangerous. But why spark kids imagination with made up characters when we can do so with real imaginary characters ?
Yes that's right. In Jewish thought we have real imaginary characters. Real because they actually do exist; imaginary because we can only perceive them with our imaginative faculties.
One example is the teaching of the two Yetzers. Each one of us has two angelic forces within us vying for control over our lives. One is the Yetzer Tov, the inner voice of goodness that encourages us to live an upright life and always do the right thing. The other is the Yetzer Hara, the evil voice inside us that prods us to do what's wrong and selfish and immoral.
Every time we do good, the evil voice is weakened and our inner goodness is strengthened. But if we do bad, our evil side celebrates while our good side is undermined.
Children respond very well to this teaching. They know what it means to fight, kids do that all the time. When you turn their belligerence inwards by personifying their inner evil, it brings the battle for morality to life. It is no longer just "Be a good little kid," and "Don't be naughty," but rather, "Don't let the Yetzer Hara win!" "Good on you, you are making your Yetzer Tov stronger!"
This does more than spark kids' creativity. It sharpens their morality. Forget the tooth fairy. Our imaginary characters are very real.