Jewish Facts of Life
So, it is June and among other things, that means celebrating dads on Father’s Day and grads on their special days.
We thought you might enjoy a couple of…
Jewish Reflections on Father’s Day
Rabbi Melanie Aron writes about the traditional responsibilities of a Jewish father, and she also notes some ways that Jewish children can honor their fathers: We honor our fathers by thinking about their history, outlook, and dreams. What events shaped our father’s childhood? What have they taught us? What hopes for us have yet to be realized?
In remembering fathers who have died, we can play the music they would have enjoyed, read from a book they would have read, give to a cause they would have supported, or visit a place of interest to them. We can tell someone a story from part of their life.”
Here are some of Rabbi Samuel Fox’s reflections on fathers:
“A youngster was asked, ‘What is the difference between Father’s Day and Mother’s Day?’ His smart answer was, ‘They are both the same, except the gift for Mother costs much more.’
The very important Fifth Commandment reads: “Honor your father and your mother.” Here, father is mentioned first. In another commandment, in the Torah portion Kedoshim, we find the wording, “A man shall fear his mother and his father.” Here, mother is mentioned first.
The rabbis offer their insightful and illuminating commentary to explain the differences in the order.
They explain that it is human psychology that when it comes to honor, a child is more likely to favor his mother.
Therefore, the Fifth Commandment mentions father first. But when it comes to fear, awe, and reverence, the father is more likely to be favored; therefore, mother is mentioned first.
The less likely one, it appears, is named first, thus giving equality to both parents. The lesson we should derive from this commentary is that both parents are equally entitled to the love, respect and reverence of their children.”
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What to Do for Jewish Grads
Or maybe we should say what to do for parents of Jewish grads. If your Jewish friend’s son or daughter is graduating from high school, college or graduate school, anything you do for the graduate will be taken as a most kind gesture by the parent(s). Education is highly cherished in Jewish culture and marking a child’s academic achievements is a great “simcha” (joy). Your recognition of the event will mean a lot.
Of course a card with your sincere congratulations will always be appreciated whether or not you include a gift. If you know the parent or grad well enough to include a monetary gift, 18 or multiples of eighteen are meaningful amounts. Why? In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is assigned a numeric value. The letters in the Hebrew word “chai” (which means “life,”) amount to 18.
If you want to honor someone who has graduated from law school, a piece of art depicting Torah scrolls is especially appropriate.