Is there hope for our grandchildren to want to be Jewish, in an overwhelmingly influential and seductive culture in which they are immersed?
In the Torah portion Vayechi, we find our people taking on this challenge for the very first time, as our forefather Jacob confronts his two Royal Egyptian Grandchildren. What can he say to these kids that will influence them to want to follow his legacy and remain committed Jews, thus abstaining from the allure and dazzle of the Egyptian High Society into which they were born?
His words to them seem to ask them to be like fish: ‘Veyidgu larov beerev haaretz’, ‘May you be like fish in the land in which you live’
What’s that supposed to mean? A blessing? A rebuke? A warning?
Fish have the most incredible quality: After living in the great wide ocean, once they have spawned a new generation of Salmon, they are overcome with the urge to return to their ancestral birthplace. Known as ‘The Great Salmon Run,’ tens of thousands of fully mature salmon will swim out of the ocean and into the rivers from where they originated. There they have been known to jump an astonishing 12 feet, in order to overcome waterfalls and other obstacles that stand in their way to return home, in the sunset of their lives.
What a gift!
It turns out therefore, that Jacob was blessing his Royal Egyptian grand kids that, notwithstanding the decadent pleasures and awesome power they would wield in secular culture, at some point in their lives they would experience an inexplicable urge to come back home to their roots. An urge so strong, that if they express it, no obstacle will stand in their way.
Two weeks ago, British PM David Cameron was Lighting the Menorah with many Chabad Rabbis last month, where he commends the Jews of the UK for being so well integrated into a foreign culture, whilst retaining their identity as Jews. See the video here
Like adult salmon, many Jews here in Palm Beach have already ‘spawned’ the next generation: They already have grandchildren, have built great careers and businesses and can often be found in the sunset of their lives.
Do you sometime feel pulled to Shul? Do you feel like you ‘just need to talk to the rabbi’? Do you then just dismiss this urge as foolishness and convince yourself ‘to get a grip on yourself and get back to the Golf Course?
Jacob’s blessing to his Egyptian Grandchildren teaches us a powerful truth: Your calling to be a little more Jewish and more connected to your Shul, your rabbi and your people is the timeless blessing of Jacob. That his descendants, like fish, will experience an extraordinary calling to come back home, no matter how far they have roamed.
Celebrate this gift of ‘fish instinct’. Give the rabbi or rebbetzin a call. Lets have a chat and connect your soul with where it naturally yearns to be!