Builders of the Future

Yael Eckstein  |  February 15, 2023

Israeli students seen on the first day of school

All your children will be taught by the LORD,
    and great will be their peace
. — Isaiah 54:13

This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.

I know this is going to sound strange, but I become a better parent when I attend funerals. This may sound depressing and morbid but let me explain. I don’t mean that I look forward to funerals or that, God forbid, I enjoy them.

At a funeral, besides honoring the departed and bringing comfort to the family, we learn about life. More to the point, we learn about priorities. The eulogies at any funeral tell us about the accomplishments and relationships of the deceased. As a result, I come away from every funeral thinking about my own life. Have you had that experience?

The reason that I said that funerals make me a better parent is that, inevitably, at almost every funeral the children of the deceased share their thoughts, feelings, and memories. And you know what? They never talk about the material things. Children’s eulogies always focus on the relationship, the time spent together, the guidance given at critical moments. In those moments I am reminded that, more than any other people in the world, children are built by their parents.

Builders of the Future

We read in the Book of Isaiah, “All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” This verse is part of a prophecy about the future rebuilding of Jerusalem in the era of redemption.

The Jewish sages pointed out a play on words in the original Hebrew. In the original Hebrew, the word banayich — “your children” — actually appears twice in the verse. Here’s a literal translation of the Hebrew: All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be the peace of your children.

The repeated word banayich has exactly the same letters as the Hebrew word bonayich, which means “your builders.” With the repetition of the word, and the fact that the verse is part of a passage describing the materials that will be used to rebuild Jerusalem, the rabbis saw that the Bible was hinting at a deeper lesson.

The sages taught that an alternate way to read the verse is: All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be the peace of your builders.

In other words, when we teach our children to know God, they become builders. They will build our legacy, and they will be the builders of the future and the kingdom of God.

Your Turn:

Based on the reading of this verse from Isaiah, how can we help our children, grandchildren, young people become builders of the future?

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