During this time period of the Three Weeks, ending on the 9th day of Av, we try to think about our behavior between one another and toward G-d. We think about why the holy temple was destroyed and what we can do to have it rebuilt soon in our time. We are all made up of many components of the many different facets of our lives; the parents we were born to, the families we were born into, the community, the country, our race, our experiences, and our failures. The list goes on and on. All these aspects of life contribute to making us who we are as adults. Throughout the years all these elements mold us into who we are today. This is true on a personal level and is true on a national level, as a people and a unit that is called the children of Israel.
We started out with Father Avraham who set the direction for his son Yitchak, and he in turn to his son, Yaccov and Yaccov unto the 12 tribes who made the foundation of the entire Jewish nation. There is an expression in the Torah: “the story of the fathers is a sign for the sons.” We all like to think that we are better at almost everything than the previous generation, and that the mistakes that were made in the past don’t apply to us since we now know better and certainly won’t make the same mistakes that were done before us. Well, here is the big surprise. Our forefathers and mothers and any ancestors of ours walked down a path that later on their children would walk down, as well. We have so many examples from our personal lives as well as in the public domain enforcing this point over and over again.
We all try to go on the right path, we all try to set goals and go ahead and achieve them. However, if we look closely first on a personal level and after on a national level, we can see how we tend to follow our parents and if not our parents then our grandparents. And sometimes it might even be as far as three or four generations back, but nothing is really new. As King Solomon wrote; ”there is nothing new under the sun.” The more we understand this, the more we can connect our actions, and our deeds to those of our parents, ancestors and forefathers. In this manner we will realize that firstly we are all part of a much larger picture than just getting to work on time in the morning or getting to school for a test. And on the level of the nation, we can think of ourselves as if we were living in the times of the destruction, or during any milestone throughout the great and colorful history of the Jewish nation. These thoughts can help guide us in many ways and teach us a lot about ourselves. Our history isn’t about other people who lived many years ago. It’s about us. We are all part of one family since the times of Avraham Avinu. Our ancestors and the holy people that we look up to are all part of our family in one way or another.
Why are some people attracted to one holy rabbi and others to a different one? We connect to whomever we are connected to deep in our hearts. We might not know why we like someone and not another. But the Master of the world that is every ones Father, knows exactly who belongs to whom and to which tribe we all belong. On the immediate level we tend to think that we as children are very different than our parents. The older we get and the wiser we get, the more we realize that we are so much like our parents. Sure, we try to set our own path and direction, however we are following our parents to a great degree. Even if there are children who come from a non- observant family and they decide at some point to follow the Jewish laws of the Torah and its customs, they are still following their parents, in personality and in conduct. Our parents worked very hard when we were young children to instill in us manners and values that they saw fit. So it doesn’t matter what packaging it looks like on the outside, we still have all those hard working years that our parents instilled in us, so that we would grow up good and decent people.
We tend to think that we became who we are because we worked hard. That might be true. Be we weren’t born 20 years old with degrees and wonderful jobs we worked hard to get. We started out helpless and it was our parents no matter how they raised us, that were there for us when we were small and helpless. This fact can help us a lot when we are looking for the right direction in life. Both on a personal level and on a larger scale. We always have who to look up to and on what to base our ventures. We are part of our past, present and future. We can’t be one without the other. We have so many wonderful family figures to look up to and to know how we should behave and which path we should take.
The more we believe that we and our families lived through the destruction or through any time period throughout history, we will be able to know and feel how we should behave today. The trials and tribulations of our ancestors is the strength and courage that keeps us alive today. I write this article with much love and appreciation to my dear parents.