Skip to comments.A letter to my son
Posted on 07/26/2003 1:31:24 AM PDT by yonif
Last Wednesday, two weeks earlier than expected, and with 13 minutes to spare, you were born on your mother's birthday.
It was not love at first sight. I had already been quite fond of you for months, guessing whether you were thrusting an elbow or knee toward the outside world, smiling at your black-and-white image on the refrigerator door, and even making excuses for your proclivity for giving your mother heartburn.
All in all, though, you treated your mother fairly well these past nine months, and for this I owe you. I have heard that expectant fathers are not entirely immune to their spouse's discomfort, yet your mother was nothing but her usual kind self during your gestation.
Your arrival in the world was only slightly more painful to your parents. I was deprived of a mere single night's sleep. I suppose it was your considerate way of preparing me for what would follow. As for your mother, while you kept her waiting in the hospital for 27 hours, the pangs presaging your appearance lasted for less than a quarter of that time. She refused the doctor's offer to usher in your emergence, wanting to let you enter the world when you were good and ready. In the end, she courageously had you in the way women only a century or two ago could not choose to avoid.
You showed up dressed in the colors of your new nation, the mark of blood not yet oxygenated and a protective film not yet shed. They calmly placed you on your mother's stomach, and you seemed perfectly at home. She did too.
THE SUPERSTITIONS of your people and the deadlines of this newspaper prevent me from calling you by name. But if all goes well, by the time this letter hits the presses, you will have been named after my father, for whom you were born 20 years too late. I hope that along with his appellation you will inherit his warmth, his kindness and, most of all, his integrity.
As is the tradition of our people, the day you are named may not feel like one of your most pleasant ones. But given a bit of distance, and a lot of education, I think you will agree that it was. For that was the day you made the deal of a lifetime, even if it came without your consent. In exchange for a small cut, you received a key that unlocks the most precious treasures of our people. With a heritage stretching back thousands of years, with traditions honed through the centuries, and with an indefatigable faith that has withstood history's greatest empires, this treasure is now yours to possess.
Whether you choose to do so will at first depend on your mother and I teaching you its immense value, making it relevant to your life and, not least important, showing you that it is relevant to our own lives. But eventually, the choice will be yours alone.
Before embarking on your path, I hope that you will consider this advice from a father whose education and inclination have given him the opportunity to spend a great deal of time pondering the existential questions that sometimes dawn between adolescence and adulthood: Explore first the wisdom and virtue of our own people. For though the Jews have tiptoed cautiously through time, we have left history's biggest footprints on the human soul.
Our people brought the idea of ethical monotheism into the world, and championed the moral life entailed by that belief. Refusing to abandon our ideals, and powerless to defend ourselves, we were often forced to pay a heavy price for our beliefs. Even for the many prepared to reject our past, there was often no escape: To some of our enemies, the mark of our people could never be removed.
I hope that you will always wear that mark with pride - not just for the other-worldly ideals that it represents, but also for the earthly future that will await our people if that pride returns. After bowing our heads to conquerors for 2,000 years, the spine of our people is beginning to straighten now that we are back home. In rediscovering our pride, our people will find its moral voice, secure its future, and take its honored place among the nations of the world.
But before you are old enough to think about or care about or discuss these weighty issues with your father, I hope I will be privileged to enjoy many years with you as wonderful as the week I spent staring at your angelic face and putting life in perspective.
Truth be told, those years should also give me time to get a few more Dermers around the dinner table. But you have to do your part and be nice to your mother.
In a world where so many still believe where they spend eternity is dependent upon self, I can certainly understand this statement. Having a form of religion, while denying the power of God, seems to be the way of this world. Apparently God has nothing to do with anything anymore....leaving most of mankind with nothing to cling to but his own spiritual arrogance.
Amen, Yoni. You and I will see this idea here and there, in bits and pieces in the time ahead.
Although not right now in Sharon, huh?