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Torah Portion: Vayehi

Book of Genesis

Chaps. 47:28-50:26

December 25, 2016

            Never underestimate the influence of grandparents! In Jacob’s final moments, he asks to meet with his grandchildren-Ephraim and Menasseh. Even before sharing his ethical wishes and concerns for each of his son’s, Jacob realized the future rested in the hands of the grandchildren. Pinhas Peli points out, “Jacob is not concerned about his own children, the first generation of immigrants, who still remember the “old country” and the traditional home of Jacob in which they grew up. To make sure the chain of tradition continues, he tries to communicate with the third generation, his grandchildren.”

I was raised by a loving mother in the home of my grandparents. During those formative years, my grandfather emerged as a major influence in my life. I have vivid memories of walking with him each Shabbat morning from our home to the synagogue. I still remember watching in silence as he stood at the front door of our home each day offering morning prayers. He appeared so “Sa’mayach b’Chelko”-happy with is portion. Being Jewish, doing Jewish, believing in God seemed so real and comforting when I was 12 or 13 years old. My grandfather passed away two months prior to my ordination as a rabbi. How I missed him on that day, and every day since.

Today, I am a grandfather blessed with wonderful children whose parenting skills have far exceeded mine. No one has the potential for positively shaping the mind, body, and soul of a child more than a parent. However, effective grand parenting can be the icing on the cake. My role is not to teach my children (I’ve done that already), but to influence the future through my grandchildren. Peli goes on to write, “Who is a Jew? Not one who can boast about his Jewish grandparents, but one who can speak with confidence about his Jewish grandchildren.”

They are not our kids but they are our grandchildren. We are not their parents, but we are their role models! As Jacob so poignantly said to his son Joseph, “Bring [your grandchildren] up to me that I may bless them.” (Gen. 48:9) As we bless them, only grandparents can appreciate how blessed are we!

Rabbi Howard Siegel

© 2017 Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Richmond, BC, Canada
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