Grandparents are much more than older relatives. Grandparents are links in the endless chain of generations, both stretching back in history and reaching forward beyond us all. They are conduits of wisdom, love and support that others can emulate but none truly can replace. And experts confirm what history already proves: loving grandparents are among the major positive shapers of Jewish identity.
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_____, as you are wrapped in your parents’ arms, so may your life be wrapped in justice and righteousness. As we embrace you today, so may you embrace your traditions and your communities. As your eyes are filled with wonder when you gaze at the world, so too may you be filled with wonder at the everyday miracles of life. As you startle to the world around you, so may you remain ever open both to the happiness and to the pain of those you encounter in the world. As you cry for food and comfort now, so may you one day cry out to correct the injustices of the world, to help clothe the naked and feed the hungry. As your hand tightly grasps your parents’ fingers, so may you grasp hold of learning to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
One day Honi was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree; he asked him, How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit?
The man replied: Seventy years.
He then further asked him: Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?
The man replied: I found grown carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted these for me so I too plant these for my children.
Honi sat down to have a meal and sleep overcame him. As he slept a rocky formation enclosed upon him which hid him from sight and he continued to sleep for seventy years.
When he awoke he saw a man gathering the fruit of the carob tree and he asked him, Are you the man who planted the tree?
The man replied: I am his grandson.
Thereupon he exclaimed: It is clear that I slept for seventy years. He then caught sight of his ass who had given birth to several generations of mules.
When he returned home, he enquired, “Is the son of Honi the Circle-Drawer still alive?”
The people answered him, “His son is no more, but his grandson is still living.”
Thereupon he said to them: “I am Honi the Circle-Drawer,” but no one believed him.
He went to the Bet Midrash and overheard the scholars say, “The law is as clear to us as in the days of Honi the Circle-Drawer, for whenever he came to the Bet Midrash he would settle for the scholars any difficulty that they had.”
Whereupon he called out, “I am he;” but the scholars would not believe him nor did they give him the honor due to him.
This hurt him greatly and he prayed for death and died. Raba said: Hence the saying, “Either companionship or death.” – BT Taanit 23a
Children’s children are a crown to the aged and parents are the pride of their children.
The Gift of Grandparenting
Open your heart to your grandchild,
and your days
will suddenly fill with moments
of gladness and delight.
No bands will be marching,
no trumpets will be blaring,
so wake up and pay close attention,
or the gifts they’re bringing
might quietly slip out of sight.
– By Judy Ford
A song of ascents. Happy are all who revere the LORD, who follow God’s ways.
You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors; you shall be happy and you shall prosper.
Your spouse shall be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children, like olive saplings around your table.
So shall the person who reveres the LORD be blessed.
May the LORD bless you from Zion; may you share the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life, and live to see your children’s children. May all be well with Israel!