Embrace Our Legacy
Yael Eckstein | February 10, 2023
The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die.’” — Leviticus 21:1
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 want to share something personal with you. Growing up with Eckstein as my last name was not always easy. Because my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, built The Fellowship into such an important organization for Israel and the Jewish people, everywhere I went I would get asked, “Are you from that Eckstein family?”
Obviously, I was very proud of my father and of what my family name meant to people, but as a kid, I didn’t always embrace that legacy. Now, of course, I see things differently.
I see the fact that I carry on my father’s name as not only an honor, but also a huge responsibility. I’d be lying if I said that it isn’t just a bit intimidating to know that my father’s name depends on me. But here’s the thing, it also empowers me.
Knowing that I am my father’s daughter gives me the confidence that I can continue his work.
Embrace Our Legacy
We see this in today’s Bible verse: The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die.’”
Taking a deeper look into the verse, it seems to include extra words. Why does it need to say, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron”? The verse could have more simply stated, “Say to Aaron’s sons…”
The Jewish sages teach that before Moses told them the special rules that applied only to them, he first wanted to remind them: “You are the sons of Aaron.” In other words, God wanted the priests to remember who they came from as they took on greater responsibilities.
It is so important for a us to know who we are and embrace our legacy so that we can fulfill our life’s mission. In the case of the priests, they had to be reminded that they were Aaron’s sons, heirs to a prominent legacy.
No matter who we are descended from, all of us need to remember that we are “all sons of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6). And as children of God, we should stand a little taller and feel a bit more confident, empowered to live as God’s children created in His image.
Think about your own name. What makes you proud to carry it on? How can you embrace your legacy?