The great thing about going to Winchester, Kentucky, is the opportunity to reconnect with good friends like Ken Rank. He asked me last week to record a conversation for United 2 Restore on the topic of “Teshuvah,” a Hebrew term often translated as repentance. It seems our Heavenly Father is calling people from all across the spectrum of His covenant body to enter into a season of prayer, repentance, and even fasting to seek reconciliation with Him and with each other. And why is that? Maybe because we need to do this to find the way through the global crises confronting us.
While in Winchester, Kentucky, David Altman and I had an invitation from our friends Leonard Newlin and Abraham Ott to join them in their weekly video discussion of the Torah portion. They have been doing this for quite a while on their YouTube channel, RSS Torah Portions. This was the double portion Chukat (Statute) and Balak. We had a lot of fun talking through such topics as the red heifer, the bronze serpent, Moses not getting to enter the Promised Land, Aaron’s death, Balak’s attempts to get Balaam to curse Israel, and, of course, the talking donkey. Hopefully you’ll have as much fun listening as we had in the discussion!
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22 TLV)
Let’s set aside that part about sinners and righteous for the moment and focus on the first part – the part about a good man leaving an inheritance for his grandchildren. What is the primary requirement for that to happen? It should be obvious: there can be no inheritance if there is no man, good or bad, to leave it. Of course, this is just as applicable to good women, especially to the courageous single mothers striving to make ends meet while playing the roles of both parents. For them it is immeasurably more difficult than for families where both parents contribute to the welfare of their children and grandchildren.
Suffice it to say that with no parents, or with only one parent, it’s highly unlikely that much of anything will be passed on to the rising generations, except perhaps the pain of rootlessness. It’s bad enough if we are discussing one family, or even a segment of society. For example, in the United States, about 20 million children – one in four – live in a home without a father.The percentage is much higher among African American, Native American, and Hispanic children, even as high as 65% or more.Yet even as tragic as those figures indicate, there is still hope simply because a large part of the society consists of intact families that, at least in theory, can help those in need.
But what if there are no intact families? What if an entire population of adults ceases to exist, leaving their children without care and guidance? Can you imagine it? That would be an entire generation –
of brides who would never be given away in marriage by their fathers.
of young men who would never know the approval of their fathers as they enter professions and begin families of their own.
of children who would never hear the stories of their grandparents.
of young people who would not know their own history – where they came from, who their people were, what special things they created, how they talked and sang and laughed.
Can you imagine such an unspeakable tragedy?
I can. It has happened too often in human history. Ask me about the Pequod nation of Connecticut, or the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, or the mixed African peoples thrown on unfamiliar shores as slaves in the West Indies and North America. But there is a more immediate example.