Heirlooms of FaithFebruary 6, 2023 - 12:00 am
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands. — Psalm 78:5–7
As we remember the anniversary of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s passing this month, we offer you a selection of his devotional thoughts on leaving a legacy of faith.
It was only a brief conversation, one that I had quickly forgotten. But not my oldest daughter. It occurred the day I took her to college, on the first day of the new semester. I reminded her that she was now 18, on her own, beginning a new chapter in college. I told her how I hoped she always would remember what her great-grandparents went through to come to this country and to give to their son — my father, her grandfather — the opportunities of a good education.
But their greatest hope and prayer for him was that he remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy, because that is the key to Jewish life and survival. My father passed that legacy of faith to me, and now I was reminding my daughter to do the same. Years later, my daughter told me that this brief five-minute conversation had the strongest influence on her and inspired her to observe that which is holy in her Jewish faith during her college years.
God commanded His people to share with each generation the stories of His faithfulness, to teach their children His Law and His mighty acts so that they will not forget all that God has done for them, and that hopefully, they would not repeat the same mistakes as their forefathers. The same is true for us today.
Passing on heirlooms of faith is the most important thing that we, Christians and Jews alike, can do for our children and our family. At times, we do this with intention when we instil biblical values through religious education, whether that’s done in a synagogue or church. Or we share our faith journey with our children and tell them the stories of God’s faithfulness to us through the years.
But more often than not, we pass along our legacies of faith through our daily conversations with our children, through our actions and our deeds, through how we treat our neighbours and others. Our children are constantly watching us and seeing how what we do matches with what we tell them. Our lives are a living textbook for our children of what we value most.
What are your children or grandchildren learning from you today? What legacies and heirlooms of faith are you leaving behind for them? What are you doing to pass along His story of faithfulness and His works to the next generation?
The next generation is watching and waiting.