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Son In Law

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Once there was a king who had an only daughter. A prince came and married her. The prince wished to go back to his land and take his wife with him. Said [the king] to him: “The daughter I gave you is my only one, and I cannot separate myself from her. I cannot tell you not to take her—she is your wife. But do me one favor: wherever you go, build me a small room so that I may live with you, for I cannot part from my daughter.” In the same way, G-d says to Israel: “I gave you the Torah. I cannot part from her. I cannot tell you not to take her. But wherever you go, make a home for Me in which I may dwell.”

Midrash Rabbah, Shemot 33:1

Our sages have said that “a son-in-law is like a son.”[1] Indeed, a son-in-law can be said to be more of a son than a biological child, since a person does not choose his children, while a son-in-law is often chosen by the father-in-law[2] and thus reflects his vision of the self he wishes to propagate more than does his natural child.

The Torah refers to the people of Israel as “G-d’s children.”[3] But it also speaks of a father-in-law/son-in-law relationship between G-d and Israel, as in the Midrashic analogy quoted above.

We are G-d’s children by virtue of who we are, regardless of whether we exhibit the qualities our Father in Heaven imbued in us, regardless of whether our behavior befits that of a child of G-d. But our status as divine sons-in-law is via our relationship with His daughter, the Torah. Through our commitment to and union with the Torah, we are not only His “natural” children but His children of choice as well.

Based on a letter by the Rebbe dated Purim, 5704 (1944)[4]

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber


[1]. Rashi on Talmud, Shabbat 23b. See Yalkut Shimoni, I Samuel, 24; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, 240:24; Biurei HaGra, ibid.

[2]. Cf. Deuteronomy 22:16: “I gave my daughter to this man.”

[3]. Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; et al.

[4]. Igrot Kodesh, vol. I, pp. 262-263.

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