Dad. Papa. Tatty. Abba.

What do you think of when you hear the word “father”?

Webster’s dictionary defines Father as “a man, in relation to his child”. Is that what you think of when you hear the word? The law renders a Father to be “the man who has begotten a child and is financially responsible for his well being”. Would it be fair to strip him down to that? The word, or more correctly, the person we call Father, means so much more to us. It is virtually impossible to use one sentence to describe what he is.

To the scientist, he is a “genetic contributor”. The social scientist might give you more direction, or perhaps ambiguity. He might say that the father is “the child’s window to the world”. Is that enough?

It may be hard for us to articulate, but our hearts have a language of their own. Hearts don’t need words. They speak with feelings.Hearts don’t need words. They speak with feelings. In a healthy relationship, the word father means love. Love for the man that holds our hand and leads us through the tough times. Love for the man that provides for us and is there when we need him. Love for the man to whom we owe a debt we can never repay, for he has formed our very existence.

            

As Jews, we derive significance for everything in our world as it relates to the mitzvot.

When the firstborn sons of Egypt were slain, G‑d spared the Jewish firstborns from the plague thereby consecrating each one. Their lives now belonged to He who had saved them. Therefore in our times, in order to lay claim to his son, the father must “buy” his firstborn son from the Kohen when the baby is 30 days old (read the reason for the redemption of the firstborn son). This ceremony is a mitzvah over which two blessings are made: One blessing recognizes the mitzvah itself, and the second is the celebratory shehechiyanu, which is said on all special occasions.

The Talmud tells us that Rabbi Simlai had come to partake in the festivities of one such ceremony. When he arrived, he was asked who should say the shehechiyanu blessing. Would it be the father, for whom this is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, or would it be the Kohen who would be deriving monetary benefit?

Not knowing the answer, Rabbi Simlai posed the question to the sages in the yeshivah. The sages ruled that the father must say the blessing. The father, they explained, is the main player at this event. He is the only one that can perform the mitzvah of redeeming his son. The Kohen’s role is to be there for the father, but only a father can free his son.

            

We, the Jewish Nation, have a father too. Sometimes we wonder how our relationship with Him can be characterized. What’s His role in our relationship? Is He responsible for our wellbeing? A genetic contributor? Our window to the world? What is He to us?

Again, we find the answer deep in our hearts. We don’t need words for this. We feel Him, and at our core, we know His love well. That love needs no reason, logic or definition. When the Jewish Nation seeks to be redeemed, we need our father to reach out with love and do His job. If it is the father that redeems his son, then Father, redeem us. Nobody else can help us Father, not even the kind Kohen, for nobody else can reach into our hearts like you can. Papa, Tatty, Daddy, Abba: Redeem us from this exile, today and forever.

And I looked and there was no one helping, and I was astounded and there was no one supporting (Isaiah 63:5)