Dedicated to Serving GodMarch 18, 2022 - 12:00 am
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. — Proverbs 22:6
We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.
In a letter that my saba (grandfather), Rabbi Simon Eckstein, wrote to my father, he said: “You were reared in a rabbi’s home, where, thank G-d, you were able to absorb Jewish traditional values about all aspects of life. In our frequent discussions, we always gave priority to the need to perform deeds of chesed — acts of charity, kindness, and thoughtfulness.
“Fondly, we remember how we sat around the dinner table on Shabbat and sang our favourite songs — songs that your mother and I learned from our parents. Even as children, your brother and sisters would help us as we distributed food to the needy during the High Holy Days and Passover.”
My grandfather ended his note with these words, “As people grow older (especially at the grandparent stage), they feel blessed by G-d when they see that the heritage and their traditional values which they received from their own parents and grandparents are now being passed on to one’s next generation.”
Dedicated to Serving God
This is exactly what Proverbs 22:6 teaches, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” The Hebrew word for “start off” at the beginning of this verse is chanoch, which means “educate,” but also means “dedicate.” It’s from the same root as the word used to describe the dedication of the altar and the Temple. (See Numbers 7:84; Psalm 30.)
In other words, the education of a child sets the direction and focus of what that child will care about, what they will be “dedicated” to as they get older. By using this exact word, the Bible compares a child to the altar and the Temple. The Bible calls upon us to view our children as sacred vessels with the potential to be fully dedicated to serving God.
My father was raised to love God and to care for the poor. It was upon the foundation that he received from his parents that he raised my sisters and I, as well as built a legacy of kindness and faith through IFCJ Canada that has impacted so many lives.
Your Turn: Think about family traditions that pass on your spiritual legacy to the next generation.