Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Most Inspiring Line of the Year

I did a bris this week for the first child of a couple with a fascinating family background and incredible personal story. I wrote up a "Dvar Torah" based on my experience at this bris. But I am repeating the story here, because it is a remarkable tribute to how love of family could cross the most surprising walls of time and space.

 I learned a very important lesson this week, from a Tzanzer chossid I probably never would have met were I not invited to be the mohel for a very unique family. The baby’s father grew up Chassidic, but lives a vastly different lifestyle now – absolutely Jewish, but not particularly observant. And yet he told me over and over how much he wants his parents and brother, who were to be flying in from Israel, to feel comfortable at the bris. “I don’t live as a chossid. But I love them, and I respect them so much.”

 After my post-bris visit, I told his parents how much I admire their ability to embrace their son’s choices, and to maintain the connection with him – despite the physical distance and the worldy-distance. His father told me they email each other several times a week, and of course speak on the phone. I complimented them – the parents – for keeping their son close to them.

 And then his brother said to me, “He is also mekarev us.” (He brings us close to him). “He has really opened our eyes. And we need that more than anything.” This insightful comment really struck home.

 How often do we see families torn apart over religious differences? How often are children rejected, or parents ignored, or grandparents deprived of a relationship with their grandchildren (which hurts both directions) on account of a fight or disagreement that should not be irreconcilable? Egos are hard to drop. Taking a stand in the name of religion or God is hard to give-in on. But we must recognize what the greater lesson, what the greater value is, when we encounter what we see as conflicts that cut to our core.

 A Tzanzer chossid loves a secular Jew because he literally is his brother. And his eyes have been opened to the idea that life is much bigger than one way – that people can be Jewish in many ways, and they can still have a “Yiddishe neshoma,” a Jewish soul.

Amazing story. Still inspired.