This weeks Torah Portion, “Bo”, is a sweeping tale that includes the last three plagues as well as mention of the Passover.
There has been a great deal of commentary on these plagues (locusts, darkness and the slaying of 1st born). But, once again, I would like to look at a line that sometimes gets overlooked in the grand scheme of the dialogues between Moses, God and Pharaoah.
In Exodus 10, Moses threatens Pharaoah with the plague of locusts. Pharaoh’s ministers lobby that the Hebrews should go. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron and gives his OK and asks to know who will be going? Moses replies that our youth and our elders will go forth along with the sons and daughters and flocks (Exodus 10:9). Now it makes sense that all the generations would go. Young and old, the “na-ar” and the “zakein”. So play with that for a while, this multi-generational calling.
In thinking about this line I immediatlely thought of the Sondheim song which has the lyric that reminds us that children will listen. That led me to think about how important what we do and say as parents and grand-parents can be in the shaping of the next generation. I think of the special nature of the relationship that grand-parents have with grand-children. It is mystical and spiritual. What we come to realize as we raise children is that they see everything and get their cues as to the world from us. What we say and what we do does have an impact. We are the role models for those who come after us. That is part of our legacy.
Perhaps we can see in this line from Exodus a reminder from our tradition that we help create our legacy for our future generations by how we choose to live our life. The children are watching. The young and the old had to come out together so that chain of tradition could continue, so that repsect for the wisdom of the “z’keinim” (elders) would not be forgotten. Perhaps as well, there is another message, that we need to be mindful that having generations share life experiences is a wonderful way of transmitting values and behaviors, respect and learning.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.