Every week, parshaoftheweek.com brings you a rich selection of material on parshat hashavua, the weekly portion traditionally read in synagogues all over the world. Using both classic and contemporary material, we take a look at these portions in a fresh way, relating them to both ancient Jewish concerns as well as cutting-edge modern issues and topics. We also bring you material on the Jewish holidays, as well as insights into life cycle rituals and events...
Parents and Children Overview
The theme of parents and children is cenral to the Bible. From the moment God looks at Adam and decides that "it is not good for man to be alone", and then creates women, with whom, in their creating offspring together, man can become "one flesh", the birth and raising of children is of paramount concern to the heroes of the Torah. Abraham and Sarah long for a child, who can live up to and pass on the covenant that God has made with them. Once they are born, Abraham and Sarah must then raise their sons, and need to make difficult choices about how to bring them up. All of the patriarchs and matriarchs have issues with their children, and some of their kids even go off the path, failing to live up to the demands which the Jewish family's relationship with God place upon them. The entire Book of Genesis can be seen, in fact, as a tale of parents and children, with the parents trying, not always successfully, to not only bring children into the world, but to also teach them how to live in it; to give them both life and a good way of life, a Jewish way of life.
This commitment to the future, the Jewish future, which is realized through the family, is central to Jewish life and practice. As our Biblical forebears did, we understand that there is no Jewish future without Jewish children, and therefore the communal commitment to the family as the unit of Jewish continuity is a central element of Jewish culture. Universal education has been a Jewish value from time immemorial, with the parents taking primary responsibility, and then the community, to pass Jewish values, beliefs, and practices, on to the next generation.