This past Shabbat I had the great joy of addressing my daughter on her bat mitzvah. I pointed to the phrase in her parasha (Torah portion) “a night of watching (Ex. 12:42).” It occurs twice in the Bible, both times in the same sentence. The first time it refers to God’s watching; the second to the Israelites watching.
What were the Israelites watching? It was the eve of redemption and they had to protect their children as plagues ravaged Egypt. Parents do many things — we dream and disappoint; we hope, we advise, we criticize, we draw close, we puzzle, we praise. But mostly, we watch. We watch as our children grow and change. We watch as they listen to our stories and create their own stories. We watch as they become not who we plan for them to be, but who they truly are; as they step from our vision into God’s.
My wife very beautifully said that when she looks into my daughter’s eyes she sees not just where she is, but all the phases of her life. The parallelism in the verse makes sense: as God watches us, when we see a child flourish, we get a glimpse of God.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. His latest book is “Why Faith Matters” (HarperOne).