Most sociologists and people who study gender agree in general that the person in a relationship who most likely will determine the nature of a family’s religious affiliation and participation will be the woman. It doesn’t matter is she is Jewish or practices another religion, if she decides the children will be Jewish, they will be Jewish and most likely will choose to marry or partner with someone who is Jewish. A mother’s influence is extremely powerful.
A father’s influence is equally important but in general different. Men and women often make specific types of decisions decades after their father has died because they feel their father would have wanted them to do so. Children hear their fathers’ voices in many instances long after conversations have occurred. Think of it this way: the emotions that are resonate behind their fathers’ voices continue to echo through time and continue to influence the decisions that we make.
A classic example of this resonating behind the words and the echo which travels forward in time is this relationship between the Torah and haftarah in b’shallah. Poetry represents some of the oldest portions of the Tannach. While today we might not understand its rhythm and its cadence, these poems, of which there are many, were sung or recited for generations and after a long period of time were inserted into our texts.
I suspect the rabbis living in Talmudic times, at least six hundred years after the Torah and Haftarot were more or less finalized, connected them because they perceived their parallelism. But I wonder if they were able to hear the messages that resonated behind the text. Could they hear the message that God continued to work wonders, albeit in different ways, in different generations? Did they consider that Deborah was a strategist and Moses did what he was told? Did they understand that songs were written to commemorate victory but also to instill guidance to the listeners of how they could hear the voice of God?
Could it be that one of the messages of the songs that were written, the songs we sing, were to teach a people of words how to more effectively listen?
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of the FJMC and author of numerous books, including "Understanding the Haftarot. An Everyperson's Guide" and "The Non-Jewish Spouse: Strategies for Clergy and Lay Leadership", both of which are available online at the FJMC store.
With Pesach quickly approaching, its not too early to start thinking of ways to enrich your Seder. Passover, the Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration, part of the Art of Jewish Living Series, is an excellent resource, and should be part of your Passover library. Click here to purchase from the FJMC Store. And as long as you're preparing to enhance the celebrating where Moses shows his leadership abilities, you can enhance your leadership skills with Rabbi Simon's book on Building a Successful Volunteer Culture, also available at the FJMC Store.
In 2015, the World Zionist Congress will be meeting in Israel. It meets every four years. The number of delegates that each Jewish organization receives is dependent on its membership. In order to ensure FJMC has as large a delegation as possible, we’d urge you to vote for Mercaz, the Zionist Organization of the Conservative / Masorti Movement. A link that will take you to the page where you can learn more, and most importantly, vote, is below. [Issues of the Unraveller will alternate between the USA and Canadian links.]