A late congregant of ours, originally from Edinburgh, once lent me the autobiography Two Worlds by David Daiches. The author, later to become famous as a professor of English, writes charmingly about his childhood as the son of Dr. Salis Daiches, chief rabbi of Scotland.

My congregant loved the book because it reminded him of his own childhood. He recognized the settings and people, and could empathize with many of Daiches’s experiences. Yet, to me, the book read as a tragedy.

Though hailing from a 500-year line of rabbis and religious thinkers, trained in traditional Lithuanian yeshivahs and with a doctorate in philosophy, the author’s father provided almost no systematic grounding in Judaism to his own children. Reading the book, it seems that while the rabbi took care to ensure that his children pursued academic excellence at school and university, he somehow expected that his own synthesis between modernity and orthodoxy would be absorbed by his children almost by osmosis.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Neither David Daiches nor his other siblings remained religious into adulthood, and eventually they married non-Jewish spouses.

The last part of the book describes the gradual estrangement of young David from traditional belief and practice, and the resulting changing relationship between him and his by then elderly father. Daiches writes movingly about his affection for his father, and the distress he felt at the prospect of causing him so much pain.

It seems so unjust. Daiches senior lived for his Judaism and loved his religion. He was a staunch defender of his faith and people, and spent a lifetime promoting tradition. By all other measures, his rabbinical career was a success. The way the book describes him, Rabbi Daiches was a bulwark against assimilation for thousands of Scottish Jews, and the public face of Judaism for nearly half a century.

Yet the book ends with the rabbi desperately reckoning himself as a failure. His own children had abandoned the course that he preached so eloquently, rendering his achievements, in his own eyes at least, irreparably sullied as a result.

For a religion to succeed, for faith to flourish, it is not enough that the older generation should remain devoted to its tenets and pledge allegiance to its convictions, but they must ensure that their own children will eventually replace them. There can be no dichotomy between personal religiosity and the desire to transmit one’s values to one’s children. If you believe, you should teach it to your children.1 We care, and we want the next generation to follow in our footsteps.

We read this week about the commandment to offer an annual Passover sacrifice and eat it together with our families at the Seder. With very few exceptions, every Jew is welcome and expected to partake of the sacrifice. Those who were ritually impure against their will at the time would wait a month, till Pesach Sheni (the second Passover), while men who had neglected to circumcise themselves or to give their young sons a brit are forbidden to partake of the Pesach sacrifice altogether.

It’s fascinating to note that a Jew who has himself been circumcised and has fulfilled all his personal religious duties would be barred from eating the sacrifice just because his minor son was not circumcised.

Passover represents the blessings of G‑d and the ability to overcome the negative forces of history. G‑d saved us from exile, and delivered us from the depths of danger and despair to the luxury of faith and freedom. Even in times of spiritual danger, and in countries far removed from our ancestral homelands, we trust Him to save us and our families from hardship and assimilation.

Circumcision is the act of permanently connecting ourselves with G‑d and committing ourselves to His cause. It is an enduring sign of dedication, and identifies us as members of the faith.

Yet it is not enough for a father to self-identify as a committed Jew and to learn and live Judaism. To qualify for G‑d’s blessings and deliverance, one must induct one’s children into that same faith and future. When we ignore our children, leaving them spiritually uncircumcised, we do not just abandon them to apathy and ignorance; we also call into question our own path to religiosity.

Parents who love their G‑d and care for their children will do whatever they can to guide them in their own way of life. We all want to celebrate together with our family, and hopefully will merit to sit together with our children and loved ones at our festival of eternal freedom, secure in our faith and confident in our future.