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FATHER KNOWS BEST

by Yoel Spotts    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses on the day Hashem spoke with Moses at Mt. Sinai" (Numbers 3:1).

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"These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses on the day Hashem spoke with Moses at Mt. Sinai" (Numbers 3:1).

Curiously, although the Torah mentions Moses' name as well as Aaron's, we are subsequently informed only of Aaron's lineage, while the Torah totally ignores Moses'. What happened to his descendants? Why are they not listed? Rashi, the preeminent commentator on the Torah, takes note of this discrepancy and explains the verse with a very interesting principle One who teaches his friend's son Torah, it is as if he himself has actually given birth to him. In that case, the Torah is quite right in attributing fatherhood of Aaron's children to Moses, for he was their mentor and instructor. Moses had instilled within them the proper Torah values and ideas so as to set them on the proper path of life. Indeed, Aaron's children, through the guidance and care of Moses, become the spiritual leaders of future generations.

On the flip side, we find a completely disparate approach to parenting at the beginning of the Book of Ruth. (Please log onto the Shavuot section of our website for a brief summary of the Book of Ruth.) While the verse simply states that Elimelech and his family migrated to Moav, Rashi informs us of the rest of the story. Elimelech was among the richest people alive at the time, and when the famine hit the land of Israel he chose not to assist his brethren in need. In order to avoid the constant "harassment" of poor people knocking on his door, he and his family fled to the land of Moav. Thus, not only has Elimelech demonstrated a lack of concern for his fellow man which his children will certainly assimilate into their own consciousness, but he has also placed his family in the totally decrepit and immoral society of Moav. In such an environment, one cannot realistically expect Elimelech's children to follow in their forefather's footsteps. Indeed, we find that both of his sons quickly acclimate themselves to their new surroundings, each one marrying a Moavite woman.

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed the accelerated decay and corrosion of society. As a result, many people have begun to re-examine the significance and importance of family values in their lives. The aforementioned episodes exemplify the necessity of inculcating within our children the proper character traits and virtues. A failure to instill these qualities in our youth can only result in a breach of the chain of tradition leading all the way back to our forefathers. Obviously, no other source can help us achieve our goal of maintaining this chain besides the Torah, which serves as our guideline and blueprint for life. Only the Torah can ensure the transmission of the ideals and ethics that constitute this tradition. Indeed, we see that so strong is the power of the Torah in securing our ancestral link that one who teaches its laws and principles to another is considered as if he has fathered him. The festival of Shavuot, the festival that commemorates our receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, enforces this idea. Hashem selected us as His chosen people by presenting us with His treasure. It is up to us to guarantee the perpetuation of this link from Sinai by delivering the eternal message of the Torah to our own progeny.

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Mazal Tov to Yoel and his wife Chavie on the birth of a baby girl this past Shabbat.

Yoel Spotts, a native Atlantan and graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is studying in the Ner Israel Rabbinical College Kollel in Baltimore.

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