In this week’s parsha, the Torah introduces the story of Avraham’s search for a wife for Yitzchak with the following passuk- ואברהם זקן בא בימים וה’ ברך את אברהם בכל” “ “And Avraham was old, his days were coming, and Hashem blessed Avraham with everything [bakol]”. The commentaries try to understand the Torah’s intended message in this seemingly superfluous passuk. Rashi famously points out that the Hebrew word בכל is equivalent in gematria (numerical value) to the Hebrew word בן, “son”. Based on this equivalency, Rashi goes on to suggest that the Torah is reiterating that Hashem had finally blessed Avraham with a son who would continue his legacy. It was therefore time to find that son a wife to marry to share in this legacy. This passuk thus becomes a very fitting introduction to the story that follows.
Rashi’s interpretation seems to make great sense, based on the context in which this passuk is found. His comment, however, raises another important question- why doesn’t the Torah simply state explicitly that Hashem blessed Avraham with a son? Why make the point in a roundabout way, using the word בכל and then requiring an interpretation through gematria?
Perhaps we can suggest that the Torah is indirectly hinting at a very important aspect of parenthood, and to the fundamental way that parents feel towards their children. Why does the Torah use the word בכל, “with everything”, to refer to Avraham’s son? Because from the perspective of Avraham, his son Yitzchak was everything to him. Yitzchak represented his future, his legacy, all his dreams and hopes. Avraham had prayed for this son for many years, and upon this birth, Avraham felt a sense of fulfillment and completion that was unparalleled.
I believe that if any of us were asked how we view our children, we would answer unequivocally that our children “are our everything”- they are THE most important thing in the world to us, we would do anything for them, etc. There is an incredible bond and love that we have towards our kids that transcends everything. It is a feeling that it indescribable, yet ever present. On a deeper level, our kids also represent our future and our enduring legacy.
At the same time, this exact point should push us consider a very important question. How much preparation/thought do we put into our role as parents? Most of us buy all the baby books and make plans to provide for our children from a financial and practical perspective. But being a parent is much more than that- the educational, cognitive, religious, and emotional role that parents play in the lives of their children is incredibly vast. The way in which we interact with our kids on a daily basis sets the tone for whom they will become, as they develop and grow into adulthood. This is a tremendous responsibility, and an awesome opportunity.
And yet on some level, when it comes to the raising of our children, many parents often “wing it”, assuming that they will figure things out as they go along. Given the love that we have for our kids, however, and the impact we have in their lives, this is an unfortunate mistake. It would seem obvious that we should put more thought into our parenting- that we should a step back and truly consider the responsibility and opportunity. What are our aspirations as parents, and what can we do to achieve them? What are our hopes and dreams for our children, and how can we help them achieve them? How can we become better parents, be there more for our children physically and emotionally? How can we prepare ourselves for the daily challenges that we face each day in our parenting? For each of us, this reflection and consideration might take a different form, but it should take place nonetheless. For some, it might involve reading a book on parenting or a sefer on chinuch. For others, it might mean taking a parenting class. And, yet, for others, it might simply mean taking more time to consider decisions or actions in our parenting than we have in the past. But it is this thoughtfulness and awareness can make all the difference.
As our Parsha highlights in a very clever way, our children are everything to us- and we would do anything we could for them. Who they are and whom they can become, is too important for us to simply “wing it” and assume that we will “figure it out.” We need to do our best to parent thoughtfully and consciously.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom!