Remember That Man

Does anyone you know speak in a bass tone? Does that make them more likely to enjoy bass fishing? That’s a ridiculous question. In English, we don’t expect words that have two meanings to be related. In Hebrew, however, homographs like these are significant. 

For example,  males have the responsibility to retain national memory.  Hebrew reveals this as male and memory are the same word, Z-CH-R.

ז כ ר

R  CH  Z

This explains why women and children generally take their husband and father’s family name. 

Every Friday night, Jewish men recite the special Sabbath benediction over wine called the Kiddush.  Guests often ask me why I say the Kiddush rather than my wife whose Hebrew skills equal mine.

The answer is that ancient Jewish wisdom prioritizes certain roles for men and others for women. One often-overlooked benefit of obligating men with Kiddush is giving them a special role in the family.  Little children, like most young mammals, develop an instinctive attachment to their mothers. She is the source of food and comfort.  It’s not only children.  Medics tell me that severely wounded warriors on the battlefield usually call out for their mothers.  Additionally, I’ve seen plenty of tattoos heralding love for Mom, but seldom for Dad. 

Even in these modern times, fathers abandon their children much more frequently than mothers do. Mothers know when they have given birth; fathers can be completely unaware that they have offspring. When fathers are present, dad might vanish from morning to night, and children don’t always understand what he does for them during those hours.  Those women who work out of the house spend more time with their children than most fathers do and are more focused on their children’s needs and wants than fathers are. Today’s solution to this advocates policies like paternity leave and urges that childcare be equally divided between men and women. Fathers and mothers’ roles should be as similar as possible. Ancient Jewish wisdom takes a different tack.  Scripture sees mothers and fathers as having complementary roles rather than splitting the same roles. How this relates to earning money vs, prioritizing quantity time with children isn’t the topic of this Thought Tool. My focus is on the need to make children feel that they are part of two entities: the family and the nation.

In this world view, nobody is better suited to making sure that children develop a feeling of family attachment for their fathers and forge a close relationship with them than their mothers. Thus, my wife, who is perfectly capable of reciting the Friday night Kiddush, nonetheless helps cement the family structure by granting to me that role exclusively.  The delicious and leisurely family meal, for which we have waited all week, will not start until dad says the Kiddush.  My children, who felt dependent on my wife almost from birth, recognize that they need me too.  Even more importantly, on some subconscious level, I feel especially needed.  The bond between father and child is a crucial distinction between humans and animals, and wives are especially suited to forge that link.

However, there is more. The Friday night Kiddush contains the passage in Genesis describing how God completed His work of creation and rested. It continues with a reminder of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, which marks the birth of the Jewish people.  In this way, it is more than a family statement. It connects us to our nation. We Jews recall our national birth every week recognizing that any nation that loses sight of its origins is doomed.

Thus, the Kiddush is about remembering not only the creation of the world but also the birth of the Jewish nation.  In Jewish life, national acts of commemoration are best performed by a male, linking male and memory. Women create the family and men create the nation. By creating a covenant between men and women, marriage safeguards both the family and the nation, two entities that depend on each other

A nation preserves its national identity by recalling its origins and can best remain durable by recalling its fathers.  Two special nations are blessed with Founding Fathers:  Ancient Israel and America.  Three times a day, Jews say a prayer that commences with the words “God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob.” America has enshrined the document containing the names of its fathers.

This in no way belittles or ignores women’s contributions. It rather recognizes that without the support of wives and mothers, men can too easily focus on themselves, relinquishing family obligations. Without families, nations are doomed. It would be hard to find a more important characteristic of stable families and durable nations than an ever-present awareness of the value of fathers.  Smart wives and mothers know this, as do wise national leaders.

25 thoughts on “Remember That Man”

  1. Dear Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin, thank you! This text is full of insights, wisdom and beauty – the title is so significant. There is a war upon families, that is something clear as the bright blue sky. In my country, this war is particularly evident and the social and emotional costs of such sabotage are widespread. A large portion of people has been living in family’ structures whose configurations are so mixed that probably never before in history something like that was once seen. Dysfunctional individuals from dysfunctional families are a burden for any nation, not an asset. But even mentioning something like this nowadays, at least here in Brazil, makes you a “fascist”…
    Once again, thank you!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thanks Melissa–
      Happy you found it interesting. Susan and I work hard on those Thought Tools and half of our energies go to content and half to presentation in order to make it interesting. With regard to your question, the double word meaning for female in Hebrew is “receiver”. (as in receiver of the seed in order to nurture it and bring it to fruition as the most valuable act of creation that humans are capable of) To this day, in electrical and other technological applications, the part of the connection which ‘receives’ is called the female connector.

  2. Kirsten Van Ooyen

    Thank you Rabbi and Susan,
    I now have a wonderful come back to all of the eye rolling, sneering feminists when they ask me what I do for a living. I will now say that I am a small building block of a stronger and healthier nation! This may actually get them to engage in a conversation, whereas, telling them that I am a wife and mother causes them to step back as if they will catch some sort of ‘anti-progressive’ virus from our brief encounter. I will share the details when I try this new tactic.


  3. Since I was a little girl, I dreamt of the day when I would be a wife and mom. So as I grew up I focused all my attention on improving myself to become the best at those two roles, knowing there was nothing that I wanted more than that. Also knowing that I was doing it against today’s popular belief that women should focus more on their careers.
    Today as a stay-at-home mom, I couldn’t be happier or more fulfilled, but I hadn’t realized how important my role is also for the nation.
    Thank you for this great Thought Tool that has given such importance to my role of caring for my husband and raising my child. It is a breath of fresh air!

    1. Gabriella, I am very moved by your comment. We didn’t even speak in the Thought Tool about how lack of fertility threatens a country’s stability, which is happening around the world now.

      1. That is so true! And sadly I’ve heard people say, “The world has become so evil, I shouldn’t have kids or they will suffer here.” But I say, “Yes, the world has become more evil, so it needs more good people. I’m going to have as many kids as God allows me and raise them to be honorable men who take their place as heads of their family and changers of the nation, and women who honor their husbands and raise strong families.” And with God’s help we will bring at least some light onto the world.

  4. I can’t help but say that you make this subject sound so easy but as a failed parent, I wonder what the future holds for families like mine not blessed with your faith and determination.

  5. The problem is that many women don’t know their proper role nor place. They are competing with man instead of assisting him.
    It’s foolish to see that CEO of larger company doing warehouse labor. There must be specialization and division of work in one’s national economy, one’s company and one’s family.

    There are many women smarter than man, but that’s not the point. If they don’t know their proper role they may be smart, but are not wise and it’s all shortsighted.

    I assume that filthy feminists don’t realize that when they destroy ‘patriarchy’ on the West then they are first to become human slaves to Muslims. Or totalitarian communist state. Something will filled the emptiness.

    1. It isn’t that women don’t “know their place” necessarily – it’s that many of today’s women lack the skills to be a man’s support system (and that doesn’t mean “enabler” – too many fall into that category!). They were raised in single parent homes (headed by a single female, whether by choice or design) and see a man as an accessory. When push comes to shove and they want to have an actual help-meet and companion, they are clueless as far as how to achieve that!

      1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

        You have a point, Jean,
        In next week’s podcast I shall be teaching on failed husbands without a clue but your observation is clearly half the story. Susan Lapin and I are speaking tonight about the woman whose parents listened to zero population growth hysteria so she has no siblings, her marriage failed, so now she is caring for her kids and her parents–all alone. ( )

      2. Thank you, Jean, for adding this to Ivan’s words. “In their place” or words like that have become fighting words and that makes it harder to have a good conversation.

  6. Nile C. Britanico


    In our culture, these facts are told in bits and pieces thanks to the influence of Judeo-Christian values. But one need much more guidance to piece it all together much like knowing words and learning to write them harmoniously. Of course, one can also learn words and use them the wrong way or put them in the wrong context – as often seen in situations where laws are corrupted, justice skewed, and morals degrade. I look forward to the day where every individual and every family on earth would learn of these words rabbi.

    Thank you.

  7. “Women create the family and men create the nation. By creating a covenant between men and women, marriage safeguards both the family and the nation, two entities that depend on each other.”

    Based on what you wrote, it’s no wonder that as marriages fall apart or cease to exist we see the country fall apart. Great post!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Right Ben,
      Those two do go hand-in-hand; family and nation. It’s very hard to have a family with no nation as the barbarians resulting from chaos and anarchy will always seek to plunder the pantry of plenty–the families they can prey upon. A strong nation depends on citizens created by families and those families need the strength and protection of a good nation. It’s enough to make one worry!
      Best to your wonderful family–heaven knows, you’re all doing it right!

  8. Tears welled up reading this. Such a timely desperately needed encouragement for young families like my son’s, in these days of confusion. I must share this with him.
    Thank you Rabbi Daniel!
    Kelly (Horsham, PA)

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Yes, please share with your son, Kelly,
      He’s trying to do it right! With no cultural help at all. Rather the reverse.
      Just one point, I appreciate your words of appreciation but like with all the Thought Tools, Susan is at least 50% responsible. She deserves much of the thanks.
      I know you didn’t mean not to and I know it can be cumbersome to mention us both, and that isn’t really necessary at all. In fact, no gratitude is really necessary since we feel it a huge privilege to be able to pass on ancient Jewish wisdom. So thanks to YOU from both of us

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dittos Paul–
      About all six of the extraordinary young women who regularly regard me as “Daddy–AGBF”
      (A girl’s best friend)
      But one important point, if children actually love their fathers, it is to the credit of mother. It is not instinctive for young people to love their fathers (Have you ever seen a heavily tattooed person sporting a heart with an arrow through it and wording “Dad”? No, me neither but I have seen plenty with the word Mom!) When children love their fathers, it is because their mothers taught them to do so. No other reason. Nothing impacts the way children (particularly daughters) view their fathers as much as the way their mothers treat their fathers.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Brett–
      Susan Lapin and I worked quite hard and long on this Thought Tool to try and make the insight as clear as possible. Conceiving a business idea is a lot easier than executing it. And having a powerful insight is a lot easier than communicating it.
      Your encouragement makes it all so much easier for us.

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