Contact Us

Say That Again, Please

Say That Again, Please

 Email

Speak to the kohanim and say to them…(Leviticus 21:1)

Tautological? Why the double expression "speak and say"--would you have expected Moses to mime G‑d's instructions? Can't you just imagine the scene—600,000 people standing around the desert all engaged in a giant game of Charades while Moses stands in the middle, holding up three fingers and pantomiming, in Biblical Hebrew, directives for priestly behavior.

Obviously there must be a more profound implication to this double expression.

Rashi, greatest of commentators, explains that G‑d is teaching a subtle but most significant point: It is not sufficient to merely instruct the people on how to act. Rather, one must ensure that they too will hand on these self-same instructions to the next generation. Speak, and say: You speak to them in such ways that they, in turn, will say to their children.

How many great philosophical systems have disappeared, how many revivalist movements have petered out because insufficient attention was accorded to initiating the young into the beauty and purpose of their elders' existence. The only way to safely ensure the propagation of a way of life is to train the next generation while young, thus inoculating them against the doubts that will inevitably arise.

The Jewish nation was born at the Exodus from Egypt. Just as a child is thrust suddenly into the world, naked and squalling, so too were we plunked in the desert, unready for freedom, naked of mitzvot and still suffering with our slave-mentality. Just as a newborn child is physically and mentally unready for independent living, relying on others for protection and training, so too did this new-found nation need to undergo a process of maturation.

Over the following seven weeks we underwent a process of life-education, training to live and think as free men. We replicate this journey every year over the sefira period, an annual seven-week long passage of spiritual rectification. Each day is a new stage in our emotional and intellectual journey to freedom, eagerly counting the days till we attain the Torah at Sinai.

To ensure survival, it is not enough to merely bring children into this world. One needs to guide and nurture the young until they are self-sufficient, capable of independent thought and imbued with the capability to make their own decisions. True education is when the instructor succeeds in transmitting such love and devotion that even later, when left to his own devices, the student chooses of his own will to follow that path, and teach those lessons to his own children.

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum is spiritual leader of Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation and co-director of L’Chaim Chabad in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Related Topics