American journalist and politician Hodding Carter III wrote, “There are only two things we can give our children: one is roots; the other is wings.”
I love this quote, reference it often, and keep a framed copy of it in my office. With four of our five children now out of the house, I know that they are using their wings, and I shep great nachas whenever I notice that they are still firmly rooted with the values with which we tried to raise them.
And so I feel a little sad for Abraham’s parents in this week’s Torah reading. We are introduced to Abraham with God’s instruction to him, “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.”
“Go…to” is great. Take your wings and fly. You are going to the land of Cannan (later Israel) and you will be the father of a great nation. Fantastic for Abraham. Were I his father, I would have been very proud.
It’s the “go…from” part of the command that is disconcerting to me, specifically, the “go…from…your father’s house” command. Our rabbis teach that the home environment for Abraham was so counter to God’s plan for him that God needed Abraham to leave his environment both physically and metaphorically. Abraham had to uproot himself from the teachings and values of his parents and their way of life. If he is to become the father of a great nation, he will need to “go from.”
As parents, I hope that the roots we plant will be the ones that God favors and will help our children to achieve greatness, wherever their wings take them.
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