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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

05/18/2023 05:00:00 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

When I stand with students as we pass the Torah from one generation to the next at our B'nei Mitzvah services, I always bring up the idea that we receive so much from our elders. Many of the values, likes, dislikes, and even favorite phrases each of us have come from our parents and grandparents. These things are part of our family's cultural DNA. Our families set our course in so many ways. There are many beautiful ways this plays out for us; sometimes, however, this can be less than wonderful. However, we aren't necessarily bound to that course, and we aren't fated to repeat problematic behaviors, but we do need to be aware of how our family shapes each of us.

In his book, Floating Takes Faith, Rabbi David Wolpe writes that Judaism notes time, not in eras or numbers, but by people. It is why the Torah is full of begets. It is why we know there are ten generations from Adam to Noah and another ten from Noah to Abraham. People are at the center.

13 is the age of maturity in Judaism. It is the age at which our tradition says we become responsible to God and the commandments. I want our kids to understand that they have come to this moment in their lives with the help of so many others. Their path is neither predetermined nor completely free from the incredible influence of the people who make up our most intimate circle, our family.

As we open the book of Numbers this week and hear the names of the many tribal leaders, I wonder how those ancestors of old play out in our lives today. Is there some minute drop of influence they still share with us? But, more concretely, we all might ask, "In what way am I the person I am today because of those who came before me?"

Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784