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Monday, April 14, 2014

David Brooks, "A Long Obedience": My Son Announces His Engagement

Yesterday, my oldest son visited on the eve of Passover to inform us that he was getting married. (He would celebrate the seder with his future  in-laws.) Happy? Absolutely. We adore his fiancée. But is he ready for the responsibilities? If my wife and I did anything right over the years, he will grow into the responsibilities, as he did in the army, his subsequent places of employment, and his studies.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Long Obedience" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/15/opinion/a-long-obedience.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), which focuses on the meaning of Passover but ignores the shootings in Kansas (please see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/04/frank-bruni-oldest-hatred-forever-young.html), David Brooks concludes:

"The 20th-century philosopher Eliyahu Dessler wrote, 'the ultimate aim of all our service is to graduate from freedom to compulsion.' Exodus provides a vision of movement that is different from mere escape and liberation. The Israelites are simultaneously moving away and being bound upward. Exodus provides a vision of a life marked by travel and change but simultaneously by sweet compulsions, whether it’s the compulsions of love, friendship, family, citizenship, faith, a profession or a people."

Sweet compulsions? An interesting thought in an era increasingly characterized by narcissism and self-indulgence.

My son's decision? Especially gratifying given his willingness to sacrifice self in favor of a lasting bond and a belief that there is sufficient goodness around him to bring children into the world.

Quite a change, even for me, as I adapt to the roles of being a father-in-law and ultimately a grandfather. In this instance, I am hoping for more "sweetness" and less "compulsion," but welcome whatever may come.

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