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07/07/2021 01:43:24 PM


In Jewish time, the High Holy Days are just around the corner.  Following is something to consider as we enter into the last “season” of the Jewish year. 

Every day I hear about and read about families reuniting. Families for whom it was a regular habit to be together often have quickly found themselves in each other’s arms. And families for whom it was not a regular occurrence to schlep via planes trains and automobiles to see each other have re-discovered how important this time is. That said, while it is often true that distance makes the heart grow fonder, it isn’t necessarily true that distance heels old wounds.  In the spirit of wishing you great visits now and in the weeks and months ahead, I encourage you to invite Rabbi Heschel into your hearts and minds, as he too sought the salves that make “parent-ing” and “child-ing” the precious sources of inspiration they propose to be.  As for his “un-woke” language, I do believe that while he lived at a different epoch, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would have championed our much more egalitarian efforts at inclusion had he been alive and writing today. 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote:

I am a father.  I have a daughter and I love her dearly.  I would like my daughter to obey the commandments of the Torah.  I would like her to revere me as her father.  And, so I ask myself the question over and over again, “What is there about me that deserves the reverence of my daughter?”

You see, unless I live a life worthy of her reverence, I make it almost impossible for her to live a Jewish life.  So many young people abandon Judaism because the Jewish models they see in their parents are not worthy of reverence.  And, so, in many cases, it is the parents who make it impossible for the young to obey the fifth commandment, “Honor thy father and mother.” 

My message to parents is: Every day, ask yourselves the question: “What is there about me that deserves reverence?”

And, I also have a message for young people.  In spite of the negative qualities that you may discover in your parents, you should remember one thing, and that is, that your father and mother, your parents, represent the mystery of your existence. Unless you have reverence for the mystery of your existence, regardless of the faults of your parents, you are simply not human.  There is a unique mystical relationship – a relationship of love and sacrifice – between parents and children.  As you ponder the mystery of your own existence, you will come to observe that indispensable commandment of civilization, to revere your mother and father. 

Wed, August 17 2022 20 Av 5782