A Lasting Legacy
Yael Eckstein | June 8, 2020
Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the LORD commanded Moses. — Numbers 8:3
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Behaalotecha, which means “when you raise up,” from Numbers 8:1–12:16.
During the difficult year after my beloved father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, unexpectedly passed away, I often thought of the lessons of faith my parents lovingly instilled in me as a child. They kept me encouraged and strong. I realized then how fortunate I was to receive such a legacy of faith and how important it was to leave one to my own children.
This realization prompted me to write my book, Generation to Generation, sharing the lessons and values that I received from my parents and how my husband and I are now passing them on to our own children. I wrote the book both to help others struggling to pass their faith to the next generation and to solidify my own commitment to leaving a rich legacy of faith to my children. It’s easy to get sidetracked by all of the material things we’d like to give our kids, but ultimately what matters most is that we successfully pass on our faith — to the next generation and beyond. I can think of no greater accomplishment or aspiration.
This week’s Torah reading begins with a commandment to Aaron and his sons to light the menorah, the seven-branched lamp in the Temple. According to the Jewish sages, this privilege was given to Aaron’s descendants as a gift for eternity. Centuries later, Aaron’s descendants became the Maccabees of the Hanukkah story who reclaimed the Temple and lit the menorah.
Even when the Temple was destroyed for good, and the Temple menorah stolen from the Jewish people, Jews around the world continued to light the menorah in their homes on Hanukkah, recalling the faith of the Maccabees. In this way, Aaron’s descendants have continued to figuratively light the menorah and inspire faith in every generation.
Sharing God’s light and passing it on to the next generation is a contribution that lasts forever. Leaving behind material possessions in this world is not nearly as important as leaving behind a legacy of faith. So, shine the light of God’s Word on those around you and pass the torch on.
Your turn: If you could sum up in just a few sentences, the legacy of faith that you would like to leave the next generation, what would it be? Share your thoughts below.