Dear readers,

Several months ago my husband and I, along with our youngest daughter, visited Toronto to spend a beautiful Shabbat with my parents.

At the end of the Friday night meal, my father turned his attention to my daughter. My father is an incredibly knowledgeable rabbi and mentor who devotes his life to studying and teaching the wisdom of Torah. He engages in the most intricate, hairsplitting Talmudic discussions just as ably as he counsels people on knotty, complex life issues. Now, he was attempting to really bond with his granddaughter. My daughter, though an exceptionally mature and intelligent eleven-year-old, is more than seven decades younger than my father. I wondered how my father could succeed to forge a connection that would break through these barriers.

My father’s warm gray eyes twinkled and a smile appeared around his snow-white beard as he said to my daughter, “Let’s play charades. We’ll take turns,” he suggested to her eagerly. “You start. Think of a mitzvah, but don’t tell me. Act it out, without speaking. And let’s see if we can guess each other’s mitzvah.”

For the next several minutes, grandfather and granddaughter were busily engaged in their activity. My father energetically stood up to dramatically act out his mitzvah. My daughter flailed her arms and legs to act out hers. Through these performances, they mimed a wide range of mitzvot. There was lots of laughter in that room, and I’m not sure who enjoyed the activity most: my father, my daughter, or the rest of us watching.

My father had succeeded in bridging the gap. But more so, he succeeded to enter my daughter’s world and relate to her through something that they both cherished.


We are now days away from the holiday of Shavuot, when the Jewish people stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where G‑d asked us a favor: “Perform My mitzvot (commandments).”

At that moment, G‑d “entered” our world.

The very word mitzvah hints to the beauty of our relationship. Mitzvah shares a root with the word tzavta, which means “bond” or “attachment.” When we do a mitzvah, we become joined to the essence of G‑d, who has issued that command. G‑d allows His infinite wisdom to be distilled into a form accessible by finite creatures, breaking barriers and melding the two into a G‑dly and meaningful existence.

The gap between Creator and created is greater than anything we can fathom—infinitely greater than the disparity between a grandfather and his young granddaughter. Through mitzvot, though, we become expressions of G‑d’s will, just as our own hand which writes, stirs a ladle or plays notes of music expresses our will.

And watching my wise, elderly father playing charades with my eleven-year-old daughter, I think I got a tiny taste of what that looks like.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW