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Friday, 26 June 2015

Why do you care if your kid is Jewish?

Daf Yomi Nedarim 32

Jimmy and Sally had just given birth to a new baby boy, mazaltov!   But they weren’t religious at all and were not excited about the prospect of doing a bris on their newborn child.
Still undecided, they called the mohel and asked, “If we don’t circumcise our son, will he still be Jewish?”
You could hear the deep sigh of the mohel on the other end of the telephone as he conceded that even without a bris, their child would still be a Jew. 
“If you’re born of a Jewish mother, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, you remain a Jew,” replied the mohel.

Rabbanit Batya heard this story and was so upset. 
“That was completely the wrong answer!” she exclaimed, incensed by the foolhardiness of the mohel.

Rebbe taught: The mitzvah of Bris Milah is so great that there was nobody who was as occupied with mitzvos as our forefather Abraham and yet he was not called ‘complete’ until he was circumcised.
Another teaching: The mitzvah of Bris Milah is so great that it is equal to all the other mitzvos combined!
Another teaching: The mitzvah of Bris Milah is so great that if not for Milah, Heaven and Earth would be unsustainable! 

“You know what the mohel should’ve answered?” asked the Rabbanit rhetorically, “His response to their question ‘Will our kid still be considered Jewish if he doesn’t have a bris?’ should have been ‘Why do you care?’”

“Why do you care?”  What is it about being Jewish that is important to you?  It wasn’t a yes or no question.  A question as enormous as the one they posed should have elicited, at the very least, a lengthy conversation about the importance of Judaism in their lives.  If being Jewish was important to them, why was it important to them?  What did being Jewish mean in terms of how they intended to raise their child?

Sadly, the vast majority of Jews today are proud of the fact that they are Jewish but don’t have the foggiest idea why.  Their pintele Yid – the spark of the soul’s flame – burns bright and is reaching out to them to do something with the unbelievable gift they received at birth.  But instead of diving head-first into their Judaism, they sit on the sidelines of the Jewish game, happy just to be a part of something greater.

Your Jewish heritage was the most incredible gift bequeathed to you by your parents and bestowed upon you by the Almighty.  Don’t ever take it for granted.  Ask yourself constantly what your Judaism means to you.  What makes you feel special about being Jewish?  Why is it important to you?  Why do you care?  These are important questions to have with yourself, but they are of the utmost importance to have with your children and grandchildren.

You are one of the blessed few to have been granted the great gift of Judaism.  Is it no more than an elitist club or is it meaningful physically, materially, and spiritually?  May you merit asking yourself constantly, ‘Why do I care?’!