My dear wife recently gave birth to our daughter Mushka on July 23, bringing another blessing into our family and into the world. In honor of this joyous occasion, allow me to share some thoughts on the significance of having a child.
Judaism places a unique focus on having children and raising them to be upstanding members of society. There’s even a unique Yiddish word—nachas—that describes the deep satisfaction parents feel when they are finally able to enjoy the fruit of their years of toil in bringing up their children.
Nachas is how I would describe, as well, the feeling of holding my daughter for the first time. It’s an experience that is at once totally commonplace in every faith and culture—after all, each of us was born—and at the same time, an experience that is totally unique to each parent.
Perhaps more than at any other moment in my life, I have felt blessed when welcoming new life into this world.
The blessing a child brings to the world is not dependent on what they accomplish. And that is reflected in how everyone perceives a baby. When it comes to grown-ups, our opinion of them depends on what they have or haven’t done, how they look, how much they earn.
Not so when it comes to babies. A baby doesn’t do much of anything at all, but everyone thinks they’re adorable all the same. There’s a certain joy a child brings merely by virtue of existing. And that has spiritual implications, too.
Not only does a child bring joy and laughter (and sleep deprivation!) into the home, the child also brings new G-dly light into the world. By the very action of bringing each new life into the world, we bring down G-d’s blessing in a way it has never existed before.
The very first blessing G-d gave to Adam and Eve was to have children. “And G-d blessed them, and G-d said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’” (Gen. 1:28.) In the previous verse, we are told that G-d created human beings in His image, investing every person with infinite, Divine value. When we have a child, we are bringing another piece of the Divine down to our earth.
“Be fruitful and multiply” is not just an instruction from G-d. It is a blessing as well. A blessing for everything needed to raise a child—from financial capability to emotional wellbeing. We do our part, putting in the work to ensure the children we bring into the world are safe and well cared for, and G-d blesses our efforts with success.
The decision to have a child should be made with the recognition that every new life is a true source of joy and pride, and an infinite source of blessing for the child itself, for your family, and for the whole world. Truly, as Herbert Hoover once said, “Children are our most valuable natural resource.”
Rabbi Mendel Liberow is the director of Chabad South County Jewish Center in Morgan Hill, which offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For information, visit JewishMH.com.
Please be in touch with any comments, questions or feedback at [email protected].