Rabbi Michael Barclay
Torah Talk - Nasso: Fathers & Sons
My life changed when my sons were born. When I heard the mohel call their names, I heard myself called as the father to sons rather than as a son to my own father. For all first-time parents, this inner change is radical. We recognize that our actions have consequences for generations, take on a different sense of responsibility as teachers for our children, and think of those children before ourselves. Or at least, we should.
We are taught that when God dictated that the first-born Egyptians were to die, those elder sons went to their fathers and to Pharaoh, pleading to let the Hebrews go, for the sake of their lives. (Midrash Tanchuma, Bo 18:1). But they were turned away, and ultimately died. An extreme example of father/son relationships gone wrong, all starting with fathers not thinking of their sons first.
Conversely, the Levites joyously sanctified their sons to God, teaching them the values of the priesthood as commanded. The fathers gratefully pass on the Divine obligation of service, and the culture prospers as a result of the priority being placed on children.
In these times where so many parents have surrendered being actively involved in their childrens’ lives, this parsha places before us the example of good parenting. We are responsible for teaching and guiding them, and especially, we must protect them. Parenting is a life long, 24/7 job; but it is the hugest blessing that God bestows upon us by allowing us to be real, involved, and caring parents for the next generation.
Father’s Day is only a little more than a week away, and these verses remind us to reject Pharoah’s self indulgent hatred; and rather to be like Levites, always placing our children first, teaching them righteousness, and leading them to serve God joyously.
May we all be righteous parents raising responsible children, and love our children more than we ever hate enemies. And as a result, may we have true peace between father and son, and between nations. L’dor V’dor, from generation to generation.
Kavannah: Try to evaluate everything you do this week in terms of how it will affect future generations. Are you acting only with self-interest, or with a consciousness about how you affect the future? Be constantly aware of the great question: what will be my legacy?
Rabbi Michael Barclay
June 9th, 2022
10th of Sivan, 5782