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Parshas Vayigash (5778)

Who Will Be The "Zaidy"s of our Children?

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vayigash, we find Judah standing in front of the viceroy in Egypt, whom he did not yet realize was his brother Joseph. The viceroy, having accused Benjamin of stealing his silver goblet, was insisting to the sons of Jacob that they return to their father and leave Benjamin behind. Judah opposed this idea vehemently, because he had undertaken responsibility to bring Benjamin back to his elderly father Jacob. Judah exclaimed to Joseph, “For how can I go up to my father if the youth is not with me?” (see Genesis 44:34).

Reb Meir of Premishlan ZT”L explains that Judah’s question alludes to a question that we all must ask ourselves one day, “How can we go up to our Father in Heaven on Judgment Day if our youth (our children) are not with us, i.e. if we have not given our children a Jewish education, and thus deprived them of their Jewish identity?”

It used to be that many families had a “Zaidy” (grandfather) who was born in the “Old Country” and who could remember what it was like growing up with all the Jewish laws and traditions, and pass it all on to the next generations - thus giving the grandchildren a connection to Judaism and some form of Jewish identity.

Sadly and tragically, that generation of Zaidys is dying out, and with it our link to the past. As Moshe Yess wrote in his very poignant song My Zaidy (see below): “Who will be the Zaidys of our children? Who will be their Zaidys if not we?”

It is time for us – the next generation - to step up to the plate and be the Zaidys that our children no longer have but so desperately need, and to show them what it means to be Jewish in today’s day and age and to be proud of it.

We would do well to listen to and absorb the powerful message of this moving song which really touches the core of the haunting question “Will our grandchildren be Jewish?” [I have attached a link where you can view the song My Zaidy online, and I have posted the lyrics as well.]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrZJcqDiyjk

My Zaidy

My Zaidy lived with us in my parent’s home.
He used to laugh, he put me on his knee
And he spoke about his life in Poland
He spoke, but with a bitter memory

And he spoke about the soldiers who would beat him
They laughed at him, they tore his long black coat
And he spoke about a synagogue that they burnt down
And the crying that was heard beneath the smoke

But Zaidy made us laugh, Zaidy made us sing
And Zaidy made a kiddush Friday night
And Zaidy, oh my Zaidy, how I love him so.
And Zaidy used to teach me wrong from right.

His eyes lit up when he would teach me Torah.
He taught me every line so carefully
He spoke about our slavery in Egypt
And how G-d took us out to make us free.

But winter went by, summer came along
I went to camp to run and play
And when I came back home, they said “Zaidy’s gone.
And all his books were packed and stored away”.

I don’t know how or why it came to be
It happened slowly over many years
We just stopped being Jewish like my Zaidy was
And no one cared enough to shed a tear.

But Zaidy made us laugh, Zaidy made us sing
And Zaidy made a seder Pesach night
And Zaidy, oh my Zaidy, how I love him so.
And Zaidy used to teach me wrong from right.

And many winters went by, many summers came along
And now my children sit in front of me
And who will be the Zaidy of my children?
Who will be their Zaidy, if not me?

Who will be the Zaidys of our children?
Who will be their Zaidys, if not we?

And Zaidy made us laugh, Zaidy made us sing
And Zaidy made a kiddush Friday night
And Zaidy, oh my Zaidy, how I love him so.
And Zaidy used to teach me wrong from right.

http://www.torchweb.org/torah_detail.php?id=493

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