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October 04, 2002 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Torah Portion

,

4I

Building The World
One Child At A Time

Join Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg for a
course on mystical and Kabbalistic
concepts in Judaism on

.

when to have children, how many
children we want to have, and now,
even whether we're going to have
children at all.
Yet, the Torah reminds us that
having children isn't so much a bio-
logical question as much as a reli-
don't need to tell you that we,
gious one: What's my mission here
as a Jewish population, are
on this Earth? What do I want to
not growing as we should be.
accomplish, and can I do more? If
While the Jewish popula-
I'm here to make sure that I enjoy
tion in 1970 was somewhere close
myself and have a comfortable life,
to 6 million, we're still hovering
then I'll put off having children, or
around that 6 million mark more
not have them at all.
than 30 years later. Why? It's a
But if I understand that
rather complex question,
my mission in life is be a
but I can think of two
tzelem elokim, to live in
pressing reasons: first and
God's image and to emu-
foremost, intermarriage
late Him to the best of my
carves a devastating chunk
ability, I can only do that
out of the Jewish popula-
by giving to others, and
tion pie. But, there's an
we give our best to our
equally obvious reason that
children.
we don't have Federation
Yes, having children is
studies and synagogue ini-
hard. Raising them is even
tiatives to counteract:
harder. But the satisfaction
RABBI
American Jews simply aren't
and love and beauty of
REUVEN
having enough children.
raising children, despite
SPOLTER
Quick: What's the first
the hardships, the costs,
Special to the
mitzvah in the Torah? To
the difficulties and frustra-
Jewish News
believe in God? Close, but
tions are more than worth
not really. No, it must be
it. They justify our exis-
the Ten Commandments,
tence in the world.
right? Actually, wrong again. The
While I'm writing to all Jews, I'm
very first mitzvah in the Torah com-
really writing to you — someone
mands us to have children — a lot
who'd read the "Rabbi's message" in
of them.
the Jewish News each week. You, just
The Torah tells us, "God blessed
because you're reading this, must be
them [Adam and Eve] and God said
a caring, thinking member of the
to them, be fruitful and multiply,
Jewish community. You must be
fill the earth and subdue it." Be
someone who wants to grow spiritu-
fruitful and multiply. To me, that
ally each week. That's why you're
sounds like much more than the 1.6
reading this column right now.
children Americans (and most
Don't you think that you can give
American Jews) have nowadays.
some of that wonderful energy to
In fact, not only is it a blessing,
another child?
it's an imperative, a mitzvah, a com-
So, have more kids! There's no
mandment. The Chinuch, in listing
better mitzvah to begin the Torah,
the commandment to be fruitful
and the New Year!
and multiply, explains that having
children must be thefirst corn-
mandment in the Torah because it's
the commandment upon which all
others are based. How can we fulfill
the mission of the Torah — to bring
The Torah tells us that before
spirituality and godliness into the
Cain killed Abel, "Cain spoke to
world — without doing so our-
his brother Abel." Yet, the Torah
selves, in our families, with our own
never elaborates and details their
children?
discussion. What do you think
Today we consider how many
they talked about? Eve, in her
children (and whether we have chil-
discussions with the serpent
dren at all) to be an issue of person-
about eating the forbidden fruit,
al choice. With the wonders of
makes a critical mistake that ulti-
modern medicine we (if we're
mately causes her to sin. What is
blessed with the ability) can decide
her mistake?

Shabbat Bereshit:
Genesis 1:1-68; I
Samuel 20:18-42.

I



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Reuven Spolter is rabbi of Young Israel

of Oak Park.

10/4
2002

63

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