It’s a regular weekend occurrence for our family to venture to Target. This past Sunday, after checking out with items most certainly not on our list, we made our way to the parking garage. A homeless man took notice of how I held our sons’ hands, each with their fingers laced into my own. He smiled and spoke directly to Zachary and Henry, “Boys, take care of your mom. She’s got your back and you’ve got hers.”
I thought the boys would miss the conversation but Zachary gently looked up and said, “I know.”
I’m not sure what he knows: that I’ll always support him or that he supports me or both? It didn’t feel right to question or clarify his answer. Feeling heartened that my son understands the concept of holding someone up was more than enough.
Having someone’s back or offering unconditional support seems foreign, especially outside family circles. In a recent conversation with a colleague, we lamented how women in particular, learn the practices of gossip and belittling to help move up corporate ladders or advance in social circles. Why is it so hard to imagine room at the top for more than one? Teaching a curriculum of support is climbing together, ready with an open embrace and encouraging word when another falls off track.
Leviticus 25:33 teaches, “When your brother falls low and his hand falters beside you, then you shall strengthen him, sojourner or resident and he shall live beside you.” The Chofetz Chayim, a 20th century rabbinic commentator reveals that in the world to come, humanity will be questioned regarding their observance of mitzvot. But special attention is paid to whether we strengthened the hand of the fallen. He explains that a moment, our moment will come when only we can lift someone up. We can bolster someone’s spirits or let their hand falter, weakening before our very eyes.
There are so many things out of our control. This is something we know too well. But teaching, creating, and modeling circles of support…this is in our hands. May our children learn to catch someone when they fall. And may they learn from us, noticing our extended reach. This is our moment.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.