The Greatest JoyApril 29, 2022 - 12:00 am
The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
May your father and mother rejoice;
may she who gave you birth be joyful! —Proverbs 23:24-25
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.
When my father Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein passed away unexpectedly on February 6th, 2019, I immediately assumed his role at the helm of The Fellowship. To lead an organization as large and important as The Fellowship is a huge task under any circumstances. But for me, there is the added personal responsibility to faithfully continue the legacy and teachings of my father.
I often think about a letter that my grandfather, Rabbi Simon Eckstein, wrote to my father, expressing his joy that my father, his son, had carried on his teachings and legacy: “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.”
The Greatest Joy
Our verses from Proverbs teach us that “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful!”
The greatest joy that parents can experience from their children comes from seeing them continue in their footsteps, living by the values that they hold dear. But when these values were themselves inherited from the previous generation, the joy grows even more.
My grandfather was a community rabbi, a man who bestowed love and kindness on everyone he met. He taught his family the paramount importance of tzedakah — charity — and seeking out the needy to bring comfort to them before they even ask.
So, as I lead The Fellowship and make decisions each day about how best to provide help where it is needed most, I know that I am not alone. My father and my grandfather — who passed their values to me — are always there, guiding me every step of the way.
I pray every day that I may bring joy to my father’s soul just as he brought such joy and pride to his father before him.
Your turn: What values did you learn from earlier generations? Think about ways you can act on those values to bring joy to their memory.