Chayei Sarah - Friedman

Parshat Chayei Sarah with Rabbi Friedman

It is certainly puzzling when, in spite of parents having done ‘everything right’, that a child rebels (chas v”sh). It is equally enigmatic when despite the child’s exposure to every violence and immorality, somehow, a fine upstanding citizen emerges.

Rivka did not have Lot’s advantages. She grew up far from the rarified atmosphere of the Home of Avraham, which exerted a pull and upward force beyond the simply verbal.  You almost could not help learning to look after the underdog, indeed even at personal risk, in that home.

Rivka grew up in the house of the evil man Betuel, and her brother, the conniving Lavan, one of the most deceitful people in history.

Yet we meet young Rivka at the well, fully prepared to engage the needs of a wayfarer – as befits Avraham himself.  Where did she get this awareness?

Perhaps an essential key to understanding our children is to look sometimes beyond our four cubits.  There are zaidas and bobbas, there are generations who we did not even know.  There are uncles and aunts.  There is a veritable ‘shtetl’ in our homes. The Chinuch crucible is not just the measurable in our homes.  It depends on the variables of generations long gone and continents never visited.

Possibly that is why the Torah registers the birth of Rivka immediately preceding the death of Sarah.  Perhaps that is why Yitzchak brings Rivka, his wife to be, into his mother’s tent.  Immediately the miracles that occurred for his mother occurred for Rivka.  Perhaps this is all an indication that it takes a shtetl to raise a child.  It takes a history as old and as wide as the world itself.

Perhaps this opens a new page in chinuch challenges.  At times we are not always our most kind and patient and uplifted selves. Indeed sometimes we might even struggle with our morality.  However, there is no doubt that there is an Avraham somewhere in the family who is davening passionately for all his family.

We would do well to incorporate within our chinuch and family vision all the refined, noble, just and pious people that populate our family tree and our relationships.  We do not and we should not fight alone.

Have a wonderful Shabbat. Rav Alon and Dani

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