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“And He has made me a father to Pharaoh.” (45:8)

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Rashi translates the word “ct” as a “friend and patron.” Horav Shimon Schwab Shlita explains that Rashi’s definition opens up a new vista of understanding regarding the ideal relationship between a father and his child. It should be one of friendship and companionship. There should exist an openness in which a child feels secure in confiding in his father. Later, in Sefer Devarim, we learn about the “maysis” (seducer, missionary) who attempts to persuade a fellow Jew to worship idols. The Torah states “if you will be seduced by your friend… who is as dear to you as your life. Rashi interprets the word “your friend” as “your father”. Once again, the relationship between a father and his son is characterized analogously by friendship. One’s father must be his dearest friend. He quotes Horav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Z”l who explains that the word gr (friend) is derived from the word vgrn (pasture); a friend is one who offers himself or herself like a pasture for his friend to graze upon.


We may suggest that ” gr” consists of the same letters as the word which defines evil (gr). A friend is someone with whom one can share his innermost secrets, even if he has sinned. This is what a father should represent, a child’s best friend to whom he can reveal anything, confident that their loving relationship will not change as a result of what may be disclosed. As Horav Schwab says, we may presume that the conceptualization of a father according to the Torah refers to a mother, as well. He continues by stating that the sense of total security is a basic requirement of every child. We all need our father’s hands or our mother’s arms. A parent should fulfill the child’s desire to be loved, encouraged, and appreciated without contingency. In short, a parent must be the child’s most intimate confidante and advocate.

We may be so bold as to suggest that this relationship should also apply to a child’s surrogate parent, the Rebbe and teacher. A student is encouraged to nurture a feeling of intimacy and affection, which should be reciprocated by the Rebbe and teacher. Obviously, the principle of “kavod HaTorah” (respect for the Torah) must be maintained between the Rebbe and student. We often mistakenly expect to employ remoteness as the technique for exacting respect from our students. Respect must emanate from mutual appreciation and esteem.

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