Minute #474: Once Upon a Time

“Once upon a time we didn’t have MP3 players. When we wanted to listen to music we used to sit around a big piece of furniture called a radio and listen to the scratchy music that was broadcast at set times during the day. We didn’t have digitally clear Jewish music on a portable device that we could listen to at any time, any place,” Grandma said to her granddaughter. “Did you ever try my recipe for mandel bread? It really is like nothing you buy in a store!”

“Way back when I was your age, we didn’t have sophisticated heating and cooling systems. At home or in school, when the weather was cold, we huddled around a wood-burning or coal-fueled stove. In the heat of summer we fanned ourselves with a folded paper or magazine. There was no thermostat to set to the optimum temperature as we have here now,” Grandpa explained to his grandson who was sitting next to him on the couch. “By the way, I heard a novel pshat in the Rashi you’re learning this week.”

For most of human history, grandparents were available to teach their descendants about the values and conditions of life in their generation. Even when three generations did not live under the same roof, people lived in close proximity and spent many hours together in the confines of their homes.

Although today families are separated by geography and the older generation is a much younger, more active group, the need for communicating the values they received from their elders is more vital than ever. Therefore, new techniques are needed to get the message across. We have the ability today to talk on “picture phones,” share photos instantly and record special greetings that transmit wirelessly around the globe. The need to bond person-to-person and to transmit Torah values is an obligation and a duty, not a luxury. Communicate to your offspring how it was “once upon a time” and how it should be in the future.