In my book “Pathfinding,” I write, “Our heritage holds the key to the historical us, but it also helps define the present us and even the future us. Recognizing and understanding our roots helps connect us with who we are and where we come from.
“Our lineage is the basis for our individuality, potential. Understanding our ancestral connections, our family’s genealogical roots and our predecessor’s stories constitutes the foundation of our very being. To truly appreciate where we’re going we need to know and appreciate where we’ve been.”
An article titled “Growing Old With Dignity: What The Torah Says,” posted on jewishjournal.com, states, “The Torah has interesting things to say to the young and old about His views on aging. In Pirke Avot 5:24 and Psalms 90:10 God lays out His plan for how people are supposed to prepare for their life’s work.
“Through the teen years, the Jew should study the Bible, Mishnah, the Commandments, and Talmud. By twenty, the Jew’s life work begins, but he does not take positions of authority until age 30. Age 40 brings discernment, and by 50 the Jew is ready to counsel others. Not until age 60 is a man considered an elder, and is endowed with special strength at age 80.”
Each generation has important lessons to learn from the previous one. A willingness to learn from each other and apply family lessons will produce the dividends of sound family values and philosophies. In this way, each generation creates its own legacy.
The article in the Jewish Journal continues, “Many of the most important biblical characters did not do their true work until an advanced age. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Moses was 80 when God sent him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. Noah was 600 when he built the ark. God gave these men many formative years in which to build the knowledge, wisdom, and skills necessary to fulfill their important tasks.
“The wisdom and knowledge that only decades of life experience brings is the only way for the next generation to build on what has come before …. Remember, the Torah encourages respect and admiration for the aged, and encourages the aged to use their wisdom for the benefit of their [descendants].”
Knowing our family heritage often helps us lead better, richer lives.
I encourage you to honor the heritage and legacy that is yours and yours alone. Share family stories. Allow your common family history to draw you closer together. Let the remembrances you share be monuments to your family’s storied heritage.
PATRICIA RASKIN is president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.