“May you see your children’s children.” (128:6)
Leaving aside the rich and deep Jewish conception of the eternal soul, life in heaven, and the resurrection of the messianic era, what many of us want is to see our legacy in our lifetime in the form of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, if we are blessed with longevity. However, just as we learned, while raising children, not to expect that they will be carbon copies of ourselves, we need to remember that our grandchildren might not have the same interests and passions for business, community support, and institutions as we do. We can only hope to be blessed to see our genetic legacy and that they perpetuate our basic values for their grandchildren.
“Your guardian will not slumber.” (121:3)
Think about parents who just brought home a tiny infant, helpless and demanding. Mom and Dad are understandably reluctant to leave this new member of their household unsupervised, even while the baby is sleeping. So no matter where they are in the house, there is a monitor, video or audio, connecting them to baby. When they themselves go to sleep, the lightest baby peep, the softest cry, is enough to wake them. And in fact often the lack of sounds, the thought that they can’t hear the baby breathing, is enough to rouse them in a panic. Such is the protective nature of love.
“For it is a law for Israel.” (81:5)
What makes us Israel is a shared sense of law, of obligation. We are Israel when we clean our homes and celebrate Passover. We are Israel when we are conscious of the contents of the food which we put into our bodies. We are Israel when we rest from creative acts on Shabbat. We are Israel when we join a Jewish community for prayer. We are Israel when we celebrate a boy’s birth with circumcision, celebrate puberty with bar or bat mitzvah, celebrate marriage with a huppah, and commemorate a death with Shiva.
“… to cut off their memory from the earth. (34:17)
When I get to the end of my life, I’d like to have made a difference. I know it’s not reasonable to think that 50 years after my death I will be remembered as anything other than a name, and after another 50 years, probably not even that, so my goal is modest. I’d like to be remembered for something for a generation or two. Having children is one way to guarantee that your memory will not be immediately cut off. Having the means to leave a financial legacy such as a named endowment fund or family foundation is another way. If it is within your power, how do you want to be remembered?
“A groom going forth from the chamber …” (19:6)
Each human soul is a world unto itself, created in the image of God. When two such souls meet under the huppah at the wedding ceremony, there is an infinity of potential. We don’t know what this couple is going to do together, how they will motivate each other to reach their highest potential, if or how they will raise children and what gifts the children will bring to the world. The undeveloped energy is the groom, the sun, going forth from its chamber on its way to bring amazing light into the world.