And maybe more of bnos Yisroel.
You are getting married this week. It is big step in our life, as your parents, but for you it may be the most important one.
Not long ago you were born; not long ago I sang to you when you woke up and opened your beautiful blue eyes. Not long ago I tried to answer all your questions — for some of them you got your nickname, the Pooh.
Our choices didn’t make your life easy. On the contrary, you were exposed to difficulties unknown to your peers, difficulties that only the life of a family like ours can bring. We did everything to protect you and your siblings, to make it easier, to make things as smooth as possible. If we failed at any point, I can offer nothing more than an apology. We tried our best, to give the best of our love, the best of our will — to give you more than we got, more than our upbringing provided.
Raising children is always an experiment, but not an experiment on some strange subject in a laboratory environment, detached from real life. The “experiment” of raising children is done on the dearest of dearest, blood of our blood, life of our life. We are never sure what the results will be of our work, and we always think that somewhere, sometime we could do better.
The goal was clear from the beginning: to bring up this girl to become a woman who will devote her existence to the Giver of life. Somewhere on the way we found the right path to do this for us, as well as hopefully for our descendants. We discovered the Torah and we joined the holy klal Yisroel.
You were raised without extended family, in a strange land, sometimes not having any possibility of sharing your feelings with your parents in a common language. There was more hardship than this …
We were successful to teach you about Hakadosh Baruch Hu, about His Torah and unity with his chosen people. You are one of them, in many aspects you are better than the average Jew, you are not only “one who believes,” you are a tzadeikes and as one of our principle beliefs teach us, the greater the tzaddik the greater the yeitzer hara.
We brought you to this point in your life; most of the time it was not your choice.
Here are two steps in which a Jew takes responsibility for his relationship with the Creator. For a girl it is at age 12. For you it was a greater responsibility and decision than it was for most of your peers. Now you are approaching the moment in your life when, together with your husband, you will be fully in charge of you relationship to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
For years I was trying to make you understand that there is nothing more important than this, than your connection to the One who offered us our existence. Our awareness, the fact that we think, we feel, we laugh and we cry, we love, and we loathe what is wrong, has only one purpose, and it is to connect to the One who caused these feelings and the awareness of them to be.
Life without this connection is not a life worth living; life without Him in the center of our mind and feelings should not happen. I’m sure that your mother and I were successful in our parental tasks and now it is for you to continue in this way.
But, “continue” is not enough. Our Torah teaches us that up to this point, most of our spiritual achievements are credited to our parents and teachers. We set your bechirah point high, and now when you take the whole responsibility into your hands it is not enough just to maintain what we gave you. It is imperative, it is up to you to raise your bechirah point to new levels. This is an opportunity for you to open new horizons of spirituality that are impossible for us, your parents, due to the baggage we carry, the tail schlepping behind. Only with this opportunity will you contribute to what you have already achieved and you will be able to start new generations and, after 120, come to our Father in Heaven with gift of YOUR life.
Do not look for frumkeit. Do not look to appease the idol of religiosity always lurking and trying to settle in our hearts. Look not for what the others will say, but be brave always to do what is right at the time when it is right in the place where it is right.
Remember that performance of every single mitzvah, the prohibiting ones as well as the commanding ones, is serving the one purpose, connecting us to our Creator. When you do a mitzvah do it right, as Chazal teach. This way we bring happiness to our Creator by performing the mitzvah with intention, taking us to higher levels. When we do the same mitzvah while understanding the mitzvah’s depth, it gives us unbelievable happiness. But He really treasures the mitzvos that we perform simply out of love to Him. Every time we do the will of G-d, we express our love to Him, and even though we shouldn’t count on any reward for what we do for Him, He did promise such a reward to us.
Don’t forget, that most of our minhagim serve us and do not make us serve others. The minhagim of Klal Yisroel protect us from sin, keep us away from the grave danger of falling from the path of righteousness. Minhagim are not enemies of our happiness and freedom, just the opposite. Cleverly chosen and kept, they are guardians of holiness and the freedom and unity of our people. Keep them wisely.
Together with your husband, chose a mentor for yourself, a rav who will advise you in all halachic issues as well as the many other matters of life. Chose the right one and you will have no doubts about what you do.
And last, but not least, honor you parents. Yes it is sweet for them to have nachas from their children, but this is not the reason why you should do it. This mitzvah belongs to the category of bein adam l’Makom and as such should be considered strongly by you. By performing his mitzvah your children (they should come soon, be healthy, and grow to be servants of Hakadosh Baruch Hu) will honor you the same way.
Everything else in life is just background; it’s not the ikar. However this background should serve you in better serving the Creator. You should have a healthy and wealthy life with mutual understanding, love ,and devotion to each other. Hashem should keep you on a straight path so that you will be able to share your prosperity with the needy and increase the value of Torah in Yisroel.
Special thanks to my editor, Mrs Yocheved, for editing this letter on the day before marring her own child.
MAZEL TOV, MAZEL TOV!!!