By Laura Seymour
As we enter the new year, many people make resolutions — some make the same ones each year. Maybe we should focus less on resolutions and more on the blessings that we each bring to the world.
Reading commentary on Jacob’s blessings to his sons guides us to think about what we want for our children, for the future and even for ourselves. Here are some thoughts:
- Each week, we bless our sons saying that we wish them to be like Ephraim and Menashe (Genesis 48:18-20). The various thoughts include that these two boys were raised in Egypt yet remained Jewish and/or that they were the first siblings in the Torah who did not fight. For our daughters, we have them aspire to be like the great women of the Torah — Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
- These are both great aspirations, yet perhaps we should be saying that we want them to be “the best YOU that you can be.” Marcia Falk in “The Book of Blessings” writes: “Be who you are…and may you be blessed in all that you are.”
- In Genesis 49, Jacob calls each of his sons and gives each their own blessing. Jacob recognizes that each child is different and the different blessings celebrate that diversity. It is no longer the plaintive cry of Esau to Isaac, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me? Have you but one blessing, Father?”
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute, writes, “Jacob’s family was certainly diverse and its members had traveled different paths in their lives. Yet he found it in his heart to embrace them all, including his grandchildren, the children of Joseph. This diversity reflects his final and complete transformation from Jacob to Israel. If our communities are to be diverse and supportive of the foundational values of inclusion, then our families — which are already diversifying — can do no less.”
This is definitely a message for the new year for ourselves, our family, our people and our country.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center in Dallas.