Grandparents getting younger

Friday, 10 May, 2019 - 3:18 pm

As some of you may know, Malkie and I had the delightful honor of becoming grandparents over Passover. Our daughter Mushka and her husband Yossi Cohen are the proud parents of a baby boy named Schneur Zalman. I know you think we are too young to be grandparents (my younger kids are engaged in a regular mission to identify gray hairs in my beard)… but that is the reality and Baruch Hashem for that. This baby is also the first great-grandchild for my parents and in-laws.

We were talking shortly after the baby was born about praying on our children’s behalf; and how that now continues on to the next generation of our grandchildren. When I was a teenager, I became aware that my maternal grandfather R’ Sholom Gordon OBM, would recite the chapter of Psalms corresponding to the age of each of his descendants. I knew about a custom to recite the Psalm corresponding to one’s own age. I also knew that Chassidim recited the Rebbe’s chapter. But this was something comforting; to know that my grandfather recited a chapter on my (and my many relatives’) behalf.

When I got married, I added my spouse’s chapter in addition to my own. As each child was born, I added their chapter to the list. In fact, often, the first thing I did at the birth of a child, was welcome them to the world with the first chapter of Psalms. When my daughter got married there was another chapter added for her spouse. And now for our grandson. As each chapter is recited, it is an opportunity to think, if but for a moment, about that person and their welfare.

Malkie mentioned to me that she did this when reciting the morning prayer/blessing about Torah study. We say “May we and our offspring, and the offspring of all of Your nation the house of Israel, all know Your name and study Your Torah.” She takes a moment to think of each of her offspring, including now the grandchild.

As a Kohen, during the priestly blessing which is recited on each festival day, I utilize the time to concentrate on each member of my family, in addition to the general blessing of the congregation and the Jewish people as a whole.

These are all our personal ways of making spiritual connections with our children and grandchildren. I share these with you only to encourage each of you to develop personal ways to forge those connections as well. It is meaningful and beneficial for the children as well as ourselves.

May we each be blessed by Hashem with an abundance of nachas from our families in good health and with plentiful resources to provide for them with dignity.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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