As mentioned in a previous post, anyone named Genendel Liba is related to me, and probably knows many stories of the original Genendel Liba. This great-great grandmother of mine was left a widow and went running to her rebbe [the Divrei Chaim according to family lore] crying about Parnassa (livelihood). And he gave her a wrap and told her, “Go be a midwife.” She did, and never lost a child she delivered. She eventually got remarried (more than once, as she lost another husband, too), raised a few families of step-children along with her own, and lived a long life, making her way to Eretz Yisroel when she was already elderly. She also left behind hundreds of offspring. Hammer, Elbogen, Davidowitz – -the names run together…there is no way to track down all my cousins.
Then along came my grandmother Hinda. Her I know more about. She was a granddaughter of Genendel Liba and inherited her giving nature. She inherited the ability to take on someone else’s children as her own. So when someone suggested for my grandmother Hinda a shidduch with a widower who had a daughter, my grandmother Hinda went for it. And loved that child so much that everyone thinks that child is her biological child and that my father, who is her biological child, must be the “shteef kind”. Or so it is listed in family trees, though it is wrong. You see, no one could tell which was my grandmother’s child and which was her step kid.
Babbe Hinda came into the marriage and moved into the small one-bedroom home. Then she found out about an old aunt of my grandfather who had no place to be and no one to care for her. So Babbe Hinda moved the aunt right into her home, into her kitchen. Wait, it wasn’t just an aunt, we found out as we heard family history. It was her husband’s first wife’s adoptive mom who my grandmother Hinda cared for in her small apartment.
Kee Adam Aytz HaSadeh – a person is a like a fruit tree. In him are the seeds of future generations. Crab apples or sweet, juicy Macintosh? Eating apple or baking apple? That, too, is in the seeds of our actions. Who you are, what you do, will give that same midda [character trait] to your children. And, Torah, we are told, returns to its living place. So a Mitzva you do, will be given to your grandchildren to do the same.
The seeds of what your children might accomplish are hidden in you. Do something, and they might flourish and grow that Mitzva in their own times and their own ways. Which is why the Babbe Hinda has so many adopted grandchildren that most people by now don’t know any more which are “real” children and which are the end-result, the genetic fruits, of Babbe Hinda’s nature. Most of my siblings have fostered or adopted. After all, that is the legacy of my grandma.
Go forth, my friends, and do, knowing you are not just affecting your generation, but are forming the genetic makeup of your descendants.
Yehee Zichra Livracha Hinda bas Shlomo