Yom Kippur 5780 – Who Begot You

By: Alan Bach

This is my paternal lineage

The descendants of Natan ha Kohen.

Yosef ben Natan ha Kohen – Born 1864 Russia begot

Nachum ben Yosef ha Kohen – Born 1890 in Birmingham – begot

Moshe ben Nachum ha Kohen begot

Aharon Shalom ben Moshe ha Kohen – Born 1960 (that’s me)

The maternal side of my family is only traceable to my grandparents Sam and Ida Fishman due to the inability to find any official records in Ancestry.com. Thanks to this technology and a discussion over dinner with friends talking about family trees, I was able to trace my ancestry back several generations with their help. See me after Yom Tov for more information on finding your ancestry.

On October 26, we will read in Parsha Noach a detailed account of the lineage from Noah. I had the advantage of technology to help dig through my lineage to learn about my ancestors. All this information is stored in a mega database somewhere in cyberspace. Imagine how difficult it was to track one’s ancestral chain without the use of the technological tools we have today.

While aspects of our ancestor’s lives are stored forever in the heavens, our descendants will have it much easier as every aspect of our lives are now stored in the cloud. Facebook and other types of social media will allow your great, great grandchildren to know not only your name, but how you lived your life, where you liked to vacation, what restaurants you liked to visit, and they may possibly see a picture of the meal their great, great bubbie ate. The history and the intrigue will be gone. In today’s age of Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat and other forms of social media, we must be even more careful how we lead our lives since our behaviors may be recorded at any time for all eternity. Will there be anything left to the imagination.

Yizkor – remember. Think back, to the events you remember in your life and especially those events with your parents, with your siblings, with your grandparents, with your aunts and uncles and other special people in your life. How far back can you remember?  I remember having meals with my grandparents and prumes being a required desert. I remember going to ball games with my father, accompanying him to his office, helping him with home repair projects and most important, I remember his involvement in the Jewish community. I remember Shabbat dinners at our family table and my parents attending Shabbat morning services every week. I remember holiday celebrations with my cousins. I remember the favorite foods my mother made. I remember sitting on my grandparent’s slippery vinyl couch and doing what any kid would do only to be yelled at for sliding on and off.  And most important I remember the coke or sprite float my grandfather made for us.

Think back and remember those events in your past that helped to shape who you are today. Yizkor.

We remember, and we hold on to these memories associated with some event in our past and feel the impact on our lives. Not so obvious is how each one of these events have or will have an impact on who our children and/or our future children are, who are grandchildren are and/or future grandchildren will be. Our moral fiber is created from our lineage. Besides the major impact parents have on a child’s development, I believe a small piece of every person in our lineage is passed down from generation to generation, to become a part of who we are. I refer to our neshmah, our soul, not to the strict scientific definition of our inherited genetic structure. There are way too many physicians and micro-biologists here for me to even attempt to go down that path.

On Rosh Hashanah day 2 the Torah portion was about the binding of Isaac to the alter by his father Abraham. What memory did Isaac carry with him through his life of this near-death experience, and how did this one event change him forever. How much stronger is the presence of G-d in his and Abraham’s life. How did this one episode also influence Jacob and his twelve sons and the future of Judaism through all future generations. Each one of us are influenced by the behavior of Abraham, and the memory Isaac carried with him. Even today, this event remains a part of each us, passed down from generation to generation.

In his Rosh Hashanah d’var, Joel spoke of the importance of spending time with those that mean the most to you and how these memories become embedded in your brain. Not only should you hold onto these memories to make yourself happier, but these memories will remain with your loved ones and will shape the neshumas of future generations. You can point to those in your life that helped to shape who you are, but your ancestors played a part too. The Jewish religion has survived for thousands of years despite the countless times others have tried to destroy us because we as a people make it our responsibility to create memories that will be passed down to future generations.

Think about the number of potential memories that were lost during the Holocaust at the hands of the Germans. We didn’t just lose six million lives, we lost all the generations that would have followed. We lost neshumas that we will never know. We lost memories that will never be made.

Think about the memories you had growing up. Think about how these memories with your parents, with your grandparents and with others have influenced or will influence the lives of your children, your grandchildren and all the future generations to follow.

We leave today with a clean slate. Promise yourself that you will honor the traditions set by the generations of those that came before you. Do good deeds, treat every person with kindness and dignity. Honor our heritage of being kind to strangers. Help those in need with acts of tzedakah. Look for the good in everything bad. Make memories that the generations that follow will be proud of. Live for today, make a difference in the world and know these memories one day will impact your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren and all future generations. Strive to avoid the creation of bad memories that will negatively impact others today and in the future. Even though you may never meet them, know the way you conduct your life today, know the memories you create starting today will be the foundation which builds our collective future.

May you all be sealed in the book of life for a year of health and happiness.

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