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    It’s up to me – Vayyeshev

    Jacob loved Joseph because “he was ben z’kunim, the child of his old age” (Gen. 37:3).

    The Ba’al HaTurim says that the letters of Z’kunim – “old age”, are the initials of the sections of the Mishnah – Z’ra’im (Agriculture), Kodashim (Sanctities), Nashim (Family Law), Ye’shu’ot (N’zikin: Civil and Criminal Law) and Mo’ed (Shabbat and Festivals). All very well, but there is a sixth section of the Mishnah – Tohorot (Purities)!

    A Chassidic tradition explains that the five sections listed by the Ba’al HaTurim can all be passed down from father to son, but one has to acquire Tohorot on one’s own.

    This explanation seems to be saying that by heeding and watching our parents we can learn the skills of Jewish life, but purity is a matter of personal growth. My father and mother can make me learned… they can train me to keep the commandments… they can make me into a mensch. However, my inner spirituality is up to me.

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