Generational Pride

Friday, 5 November, 2010 - 12:09 pm

This weeks Torah portion opens with a curious redundancy, "These are the generations of Isaac son of Abraham, Abraham bore Isaac." If Isaac is Abraham's son then of course Abraham begot him. One of the explanations is that both Abraham and Isaac took pride in their association with each other. Abraham was proud to be known as Isaac's father, and Isaac was proud to be known as Abraham's son.

I believe that therein lies a very powerful message. The importance of being proud of where we came from - our heritage and history. And also ensuring that our conduct is such that our ancestors would be proud of us. Two stories to illustrate the point.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski related that many years ago he was riding a bus when a woman came up to him and began berating him Yiddish for clinging to his old-fashioned ways and dress and how embarrassing it is for the Jewish people. He looked at her blankly and said "I'm sorry ma'am, but I don't understand what you saying. I am Amish." Upon hearing this she apologized profusely and declared "Oh you're Amish. I admire you people so much for retaining the ways of your heritage." At this point, the Rabbi says. "Lady why is it that you are ashamed of a Jew who proudly retains his way, but you admire the Amish for the same conduct?

In 1948, upon the establishment of the State of Israel, Zalman Shazar was appointed Minister of Education. At the time there was a push to force the religious schools in Israel to conform to certain standards that were offensive to them. Knowing that Shazar came from Chabad ancestry (his original name was Shneur Zalman Rubashov - hence the acronym Shazar), the religious leadership in Israel turned to the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York to influence the Minister in the matter. The Rebbe sent Shazar the following succinct message, "Make sure that the Rubashov family of Russia (his ancestors) will not be put to shame by the Rubashov family in Israel." The message hit its mark and the policy changed. Subsequently Shazar became very close to Chabad. (For more on this see

It is a two way street. If we are proud of from where we come, then we will act in a way that makes them proud of us.

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