The Lineage Begins with Us

Yael Eckstein  |  August 31, 2021

Yael Eckstein spends time with faith and family on beach

I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today. — Deuteronomy 29:14-15

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is is Nitzavim, which means “standing,” from Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20.

Rabbi Mendel was a great sage and spiritual leader in Poland in the 1800s. He was widely known as an inspirational teacher and guide throughout the small Jewish towns of Eastern Europe.

Rabbi Mendel’s father passed away when Mendel was an infant, leaving his mother to raise him alone. Despite her difficulties as a single mother in those days, Mendel’s mother always took pride in her family history. Her family’s roots among the greatest Jewish scholars and rabbis went back centuries. Her prized possession was a book, given to her by her own grandmother, that recorded this illustrious lineage.

One winter night, due to sparks from the wood-burning furnace, their home caught fire. Mendel’s mother woke him up, screaming at him to run from the house before it burned to the ground. As Mendel and his mother stood outside watching their home burn, Mendel’s mother was crying and saying over and over, “The lineage! The lineage!” referring to the book that was going up in flames with the rest of their belongings.

Mendel took his mother’s hand. “Don’t worry, mama,” he said. “The lineage starts right here. I will be your lineage.”

The Lineage Begins with Us

In this week’s Torah portion, the nation of Israel renewed their covenant with God just before entering the Promised Land. After reminding the people that the covenant fulfilled God’s promises to the forefathers, Moses then turned his attention to the future.

In addressing the Israelites gathered there, Moses said, “I  am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.

Even as we are grateful for the traditions of faith that came down to us from those who came before us, the seeds that we plant in our own relationship to God will bear fruit for generations to come. The lineage begins with us.

Your Turn:

What can you do in your own family or church to contribute to the faith of the next generation?

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