This Shabbat:

Friday Candle Lighting: 6:25 pm
Shabbat Ends: 7:19 pm

Torah Message:

Coming Home

“And you will return to Hashem, your G-d, and listen to His voice… (30:2)

I guess every family has its more and less religious members. My father was one of thirteen siblings and his father came from Birshenkovitz in the Ukraine. In the early years of the twentieth century my grandfather, his mother and his five sisters all left the Ukraine. I don’t know if they all left together, but all the sisters and their mother, Yocheved, ended up in the US, and my grandfather in England. In the 1920s my grandfather and some of his sons opened a furniture factory that was very successful until the eldest son, Irving, died tragically in a car accident. Without him the business soon went into liquidation. Recently, with the wonders of email, the greater Spivack clan regularly swaps family history stories, and I recently posted the following: “My father (of blessed memory) once told me about a visit of Bobbe Yocheved’s to England. She came to their furniture factory one Friday afternoon. There was a lumber delivery taking place. She realized that they were not going to be able to offload all the lumber before Shabbos came in, and so she told the transport company to reload all the lumber, take it back to the depot, and deliver it on Monday morning. They were flabbergasted, but she was adamant and got her way. I don’t think that won her too many popularity bouquets from the lumber company, but I was impressed with the length that she was prepared to go to uphold her principles.”

A cousin of mine shot back, “Nice story about our great-grandmother. No wonder the business went bust!”

To which I replied, “Maybe it kept going as long as it did because of her principled action.”

“Maybe!” he replied.

My impression is that the Spivacks were quite religious, and that over the years it lessened — some more than others. Where there is no Torah learning, eventually there is no doing. In my experience, observance rarely extends to more than the following generation unless you can give your children reasons for our customs and observance.

“And you will return to Hashem, your G-d, and listen to His voice,” is both a command and a prediction. The command to return, to regain what we have lost, is written not in the command form but in the plain future tense — meaning that it’s also a prediction. Hashem tells us that whether we want to or not, eventually we must return to Him. Even if we fail to do the job ourselves, there exists in the Creation a historical imperative: Eventually an era will dawn when the light of spirituality will infuse the entire world and pervade every soul.