There are all types of nachat that we have from our children. Hopefully, when all goes well, their wedding day and the spouse they choose is atop that list. They have grown from small children in need of guidance to men or woman who have found their way and their partner for life.
When I see my husband with his boys’ at their weddings, there is only joy for him and me. I see the love between them and I hope to one day stand at my own children’s weddings and see that same look of love and pride.
You may wonder if there is any jealousy but I can reassure you because while these are children from another marriage, it is not a marriage that my husband was in. My husband was, or I guess still is, their Rebbi.
Traditionally, it was the father who taught his son but when he was not able to fulfill that role, he would hire a teacher to step in and play dad as it were. The love of a Rebbi exists because of the role, partially parental, that he plays in the lives of his students.
Early in our marriage before we had children of our own, my husband would bring home his young students and we would put on Shabbat for them, play mom and dad, prepare traditional food, singing, games, play hide and seek, what ever it took to give a positive impression to these non-religious children. We would give them back to their parents after an ice cream melava malka and know that we had planted seeds for their future.
As my husband began teaching older grades in more religious environments, we moved away from the shabbaton role.
The relationship my husband developed with his talmidim began in the classroom with regular text work but moved quickly beyond that. I remember years ago when some of my husbands “lower” shiur boys visited the honors track once and to the upper track’s horror, it was these “lower” boys who were the only ones who could make a laining on the new section in the gemora because they had developed the skills and confidence to do so in my husband’s shiur.
Yet, the relationship my husband has with his talmidim expands beyond the classroom walls and curriculum. Our phone could ring any time of night or day with questions from the boys or their parents. Sometimes the conversations were quick and others would have my husband say a hasty good-bye to me as he rushed out the door to give support or problem solve in person. They know he is available 24 hours a day.
There is one quality that stands out to me as the reason that my husband still remembers birthdays, gets calls or messages about engagements, wedding and babies and gives shiurim to former talmidim. His love for his students is ahava she’lo taloi b’davar. His relationship with his students and the love he transmits is not dependent upon where they are holding religiously or which direction they are heading at the moment. He loves them as they are because they are his students, his boys. Nothing more, nothing less.
One day in the future, I hope to witness at my own children’s wedding what I saw at the wedding where my husband recently was mesader kedushin for a student he taught in high school more than a decade ago. As the chatan embraced my husband for the final time before we left, he looked right at his Rebbi and said that he was so happy that my husband came and could not imagine anyone else being his mesader kedushin. I hope that when my children find that special Rebbi, they will recognize how fortunate they are.
As our children embark on a new year of learning I want them to have academic success. Even more so, my real hope is that they have rebbeim, or morot, like their Abba, who will push them and guide them and love them unconditionally and for whom my children will become the children from another marriage.