It is amazing how much life takes place in a relatively short of amount of time. Three years ago, I blogged about my aspirations as a parent and a principal on this exact same day on the Jewish calendar – on the morning of what will soon be Kol Nidre and the beginning of Yom Kippur. They feel newly appropriate. Three years ago we were new to this community, this synagogue and this school. We had had a great transition and were full of excitement about what the future would bring. We had plans, hopes, dreams, fears, concerns and a whole host of other emotions.
And I had a father.
Of all the myriad of changes that has taken place between now and then, this one looms largest even though it is sometimes difficult day-to-day to always understand how. There are days when it feels like it happened years ago. There are days when it feels like it never happened. And there are days where it feels like it is happening all over again. I am assured that this is all normal and I am sure that it is.
Now that I have been blogging for a few years, I am sometimes moved to revisit prior posts and see how they hold up over time. Occasionally, I am inspired to update in light of new realities. This is one of those times, as I revisit words of prayer written by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov from his Likutey Moharan (2:7) that now speak to me with the same words, but with new meaning…
teach me to embody those ideals
I would want my children
to learn from me.
Let me communicate
with my children – wisely
that will draw their hearts
to kindness, to deceny
and to true wisdom.
let me pass on to my children
only the good;
let them find in me
and the behavior
I hope to see in them.
I now read those words of three minds – as a son who lost a father, as a parent of two and a principal of many. It reminds me why our faculty handbook quotes Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, saying, “We need to have more than textbooks, we need text-people”. We can have the best books, most well though-out curriculum, and the most sophisticated technology – and hopefully we either do or will soon – but without the right people what does it really amount to?
And we can have read all the best parenting books and have our children in all the best schools and extracurricular activities – but without us parenting as our best selves, what can it really mean?
Among our traditions during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur include the act of teshuvah – the complicated act of acknowledging past wrongs, correcting past mistakes, promises of changed behavior, etc. For my part, please allow me apologize to all those I have wronged or hurt, intentionally or unknown over the past year. I look forward to working on myself to be the best “me” I can in the upcoming year. For me, my mother, my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my teachers, my students and their families – I hope this year to live up to the words of Rebbe Nachman and Rabbi Heschel.
And I hope to take the lessons of my father of blessed memory to heart as I now follow his footsteps on the journey of my own fatherhood…