Quality Jewish Time
by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton
I have so much going on in my life - work, study, friends, hobbies and family. Which area should be the focus of my attention?
In this week's Torah portion we read about the destruction of Sedom and Gemorah. These cities had become so evil and corrupt that G-d decided to destroy them. But before proceeding with the job, G-d first decided to inform Abraham of His plans.
Imagine a powerful king who has decided to wage war against a foreign nation, yet feels the need to inform one of His simple citizens of his intents. How honoured would that citizen feel? The Almighty in His infinite wisdom had made a decision to do something, yet He felt that it would only be right to let Abraham in on His intentions. What did Abraham do to deserve such an honour? Was it because he was the first man to "find" G-d, the one who followed G-d with complete faith and taught the ways of G-d to his generation? Perhaps it was because he passed with flying colours all the trials and tribulations that G-d had set before him, thereby demonstrating his commitment and total dedication to G-d?
Luckily, G-d let us in on His thinking and why he accorded this huge honour to Abraham: "G-d said 'Shall I conceal from Abraham what I do? For I have cherished him because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the ways of G-d doing charity and justice' ".
Abraham was a very busy man doing the holy work of G-d. He was a man who took his relationship with G-d very seriously. Yet, what G-d appreciated most was that Abraham invested his main time and efforts into his family. He spent time teaching his children "the ways of G-d, doing charity and justice". Abraham realized the importance and centrality of a strong home, the institution in our lives around which everything else revolves.
But he understood that "quality family time" is not enough. Abraham knew that in order to insure Jewish continuity, sleeping under the same roof and eating at the same table would simply not do. His time spent with his family would have to be "quality Jewish family time" - allowing communication between family members to thrive, sharing values and growing together towards a common goal. He appreciated the integral place that the home has in a child's education; he was not one to outsource this sacred duty to others, letting someone else worry about his own kids' Jewish identity. It was only because of this kind of conduct and way of life that G-d decided to honour Abraham in this most extraordinary manner.
Our forefather Abraham imparted to us the importance of investing in the family unit. He taught us how the Jewish home is the key to Jewish continuity. He showed us the importance of turning some of our "quality time" spent together into "quality Jewish time".