That Which is Born

My husband and I celebrated two joyous events early this week. On Sunday, we were guests at a ninetieth birthday brunch and a day later we welcomed a young lady whose age we are now counting in days rather than years.

Rosie, may she live and be well, and my mother, may she rest in peace, began a friendship when they were five-year-old neighbors. When Rosie’s oldest sister married my mother’s uncle the ties grew stronger. On Sunday, her five children honored her at a birthday brunch where she was lovingly feted by over sixty children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends. A day later, our newest granddaughter made her appearance.

The juxtaposition of the events got me to thinking. There is a saying in ancient Jewish wisdom, “Who is wise? He who sees what is born.” Note that it doesn’t say, “He who sees the future.” We aren’t being told that one needs prophecy to be wise; one needs to be able to see that which is likely to happen if we expand our vision beyond the present.

In 1979, when China announced its one-child policy, my husband—one of the wisest men I know—told his students that with families limited to one child, girls would be aborted or abandoned, a tragedy in itself. The problems would be compounded down the road, he said, when China would face a crisis as armies of young men were unable to find wives. Over the years we watched this very situation unfold and read articles with bemusement as social scientists pontificated on this “unexpected consequence.” Faced with the results of a failed policy, China has rescinded it.

So many young women and couples today, in affluent societies, opt to delay childbirth or not to have children at all. They relish focusing on their careers and vacationing in exotic locales. Babies, even the easiest of them,  have a tendency to change that, as they should.

Can a twenty-two-year-old actually picture herself at ninety? She probably can’t even visualize herself at forty, let alone older. Does she imagine, even assuming good health, being in a retirement community with only those close to her own age and relying on paid help for whatever assistance she needs? Can she picture the loneliness of being limited to the present and past, without children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to shine a light into the future? I doubt that any young person could.

Some people are not blessed with children no matter how much they are desired. Other times, tragically, parents survive their children rather than the other way around. Children can be sources of disappointment rather than delight. There is poignant truth in the saying that one mother can care for ten children while ten children struggle to care for one mother.

Nonetheless, in a society that follows Godly, rather than human wisdom, one which celebrates the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, an aging population is outnumbered by the next generation. If that generation too has been taught the commandment to honor parents and to glorify the elderly, getting older can be a busy and productive time of passing on wisdom and enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. I pray that our newest blessing stays immune from foolish and ephemeral societal trends and instead makes her life decisions based on the wisdom of ages that will allow her to “see that which is born.”

27 thoughts on “That Which is Born”

  1. As always, your musings warm and inspire. Mazel tov on the birth of your granddaughter! As the one child policy damaged China, our abortions policies damage our nations. I am fortunate to have two sons, but buying the kool aid of our social zeitgeist, I had an abortion in the 90s that I regret to this day. We are told to eliminate our own babies for our convenience, but also that we need to import workers from other countries. How does that make sense? I’m so glad that the pro-life movement has gained support over the years, as I can tell you from experience, it diminishes the soul of the mother, and tears at the morality of our nation.

    1. Oh, Eileen. I’m so sorry for the pain you carry. It’s so important that young women hear another side to the message they are fed about how abortion is empowering and has no after-effects. It is wonderful to see how the pro-life movement is growing.

  2. A beautiful musing Susan! Congrats on your new granddaughter. I welcomed my fifth grandchild, a boy, in December. My prayer is to be Nana to these five young blessings and teach them as best I can about the Creator of their lives and the universe. Blessings to you and Rabbi. There is not much that can match the joys of being a grandparent from my perspective!

  3. Congratulations all around, Susan. There’s always room in a family for one more of God’s best blessings, a new baby 😉

  4. Mazel tov on the birth of your granddaughter. May she have a long and blessed life, growing every day closer to her Creator. I do not have children myself, but the Lord blessed me with a loving family. My nephew and his family are very special and as I grow older I am very thankful to have them to keep an eye on things as my own abilities wane. The Lord has helped me prepare as much as possible with a home on one level, good long term care insurance, and sufficient financial resources so I shouldn’t have to be a burden on my beloved family in that sense. As I have watched many of my friends getting older, I have come to realize that even with a loving family, the greatest heartache for many is the loneliness of loss as spouses and friends die, as we ourselves become less mobile because of arthritis or other issues, and so forth. So in addition to a strong relationship with family and friends, we need something else and that is a strong relationship with our Sovereign Lord and Creator. Spending time with him daily in prayer and in meditation on Scripture helps to keep our spirits young for His Word is new every morning. Blessings to you, Rabbi Daniel, your new granddaughter, and your whole family.

    1. Joyce, what wise words. Yes, having a relationship with our Creator means that we are never alone. I am glad that you also have family sharing your life.

  5. Thank you Susan, my wife and I were boyfriend and girlfriend at 15, married at 18, this Shabbat will be 45 years for us. I thank G-d for wisdom in Torah and you and your husband’s insight on life and the world around us. 5 children, 16 grandchildren and 2 great. I would do it all over again. Be blessed.

    1. Mazal tov on your anniversary, Vince. May you have many more happy and healthy years together.

  6. The failed policy in China has its counterparts in Europe. For years I lived in a European nation where non-traditional, feel-good, hedonistic partnerships and The Pill were both valued and sanctioned. We watched as couples remained childless by design, to lament this choice down the road. Such choices also have dire consequences for a nation. Today the Prime Minister laments that the native population is not being replenished, is dying out and cannot feed the ravenous socialist system. In order to recruit more warm bodies to stoke the fires of socialism the Prime Minister has announced the intent to open up the gate to eight million Muslims from the war-torn Near East. Good luck with that!

    Like the Rabbi, I fear that this is the end of Europe as we know it, of the Europe that since the days of Charles Martel and Prinz Eugen steadfastly resisted with cold steel the encroaching tide of the caliph’s scimitar and barbarism. In that same European nation my wife had a school teacher who once told his class ominously: ‘One day they will conquer us.’ The adherents of Islam have no qualms with the imperative of reproduction, for sure. And even already the State Department has issued warnings to travelers to this nation to keep both eyes open for sporadic terrorism in public places.

    1. James, you are absolutely right. Europe is suffering terribly from a lack of children. Whenever Americans talk about the wonderful maternity and paternity support leave and benefits and how we need them here, I want to shake them and ask why those benefits seem to correlate with a reduction in having children.

      1. Thanks for reply! It seems counter-intuitive that such ‘parental’ benefits would necessarily correlate with LESS children (If I as John Q. Socialist got better time off for having children in tow, wouldn’t I want MORE children? I hasten to add that I am NOT John Q. Socialist). But if you are right, then yes indeed, the bennies all look good on the surface and on paper, but there are always but always consequences unforeseen, untoward and oft catastrophic. Actually my Missus-the-native and I both thank our lucky stars that we exited this nation before the socialist multi-cultural ‘equality’ ordure hit the fan. For decades now their leadership seems to have abandoned and forsaken the path of wisdom.

  7. Congratulations on the birth of Rose! As always, amazing wisdom you and Rabbi Lapin so freely give. I will definitely be praying for my children and grandchildren so they may, “see that which is born!”
    Thank you for ALL that you do.
    Shalom Aleichem,

    1. Thank you, Marlin. The baby isn’t Rose – that is the ninetieth birthday girl. But we appreciate the good wishes.

  8. Miss Susan, Being older, and having health issues i did not imagine in my youth, brought a poincy to your musing for this week. We recently lost a close friend who had outlived her children, through the children’s bad choices. My wife’s grandmother who lived until her early nineties having outlived her children and her husband. Both of these women had grandchildren who loved them and tried to provide the care and support they needed in the twilight years. Isn’t that a great euphemism for getting to be old and approaching the end? Although twilight leads to the dark of night, and we are taught that death is not the end of out journey. But I digress.
    From my perspective the most frightening thing about aging is that even now I take care of my wife (also named Susan) to an extent that is much more than usual between men and wives. I worry about what will happen when I am not able to provide the care and support she will need as she ages.
    I know that my children and grandchildren will care for us as best they can, but I suffer from the sin of pride and hubris and I hate to ask for help.
    My children have children of their own to worry about and I refuse to be a heavy burden to them, maybe just a little burden to keep them on their toes, but nothing too serious at this point in their lives.
    So although there is a tragedy in out living your offspring or as with one of my beloved nieces, not being able to have children, it is vain for those of us who are blessed to expect that our children, no matter how much they love us to take the attention away from their own children, where it rightly belongs and become our caregivers.
    When the time comes that I can not provide the care my wife needs, and lose the ability to care for myself, and to provide what little I am able to give back to the people of this great land of ours, I hope that I will go quickly. Until that time I will, in the words of Dylan Thomas,
    “Do not go gently into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at the close of day,
    Rage rage against the dying of the light.”
    Regards to your wise husband and best wishes for young Rosie. ( I have a grand niece named Rosie and she is a special one to be sure.)
    More ramblings of an old man.
    Bill Brower

    1. Bill, I don’t think any of us want to be a burden on our children. That is one of the great benefits of being financially secure and able to hire good help. But having children and grandchildren who love us overseeing that help and providing emotional joy is something we should all welcome. My daughter who is a nurse says that inevitably, hospitalized elderly people who have children around get better care than those on their own.

    2. Bill,
      Just a thought, perhaps not allowing your children and grandchildren to care for you and your wife as you age, you will be denying them the joy they would have doing it. Or lessons they could learn from you as you grow less able to care for yourself. I’ve always considered caring for our older relatives a blessing, not a burden. Pray about it before you close that door for your family!

  9. Thank you, Thank you for your program. The highly of my day. Keep helping us see and understand.
    We can find out though Rabbi and Susan Lapin program the things that matter. I had no formal religious education, but it’S never
    too late to learn. Thank Again.

  10. Oh, CONGRATULATIONS to your family! Praise Jehovah forever for HIS goodness! I pray your new little family member will live out the full number of her days and will be blessed beyond measure by our wonderful GOD! Thank you for sharing the pictures (from one grandmother to another). You and your husband bless me weekday mornings via TCT.
    Tracy Mayberry

  11. As always, you make good, wise and Godly advice easy to understand… Thank you for continuing to share your wisdom with all of us!

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