Off the Pulpit: Advice for In-laws?


“Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife” teaches Genesis 2:24. I have always thought that verse was directed toward parents and even more, in-laws.

It is a familiar scenario. You raise children, feed them, care for their every need, and feel that powerful bond that love and dependency create. You remember their last cold and their first steps. Then one day she comes home and points to a boy you have never met and says, “This is the most important person in the world to me.”

You might feel wounded, but the Torah is telling you that is how it is supposed to be. Indeed this is what Adam and Eve do to God – listening to one another instead of their Parent. Such is the order of the universe. There is a natural assumption that this new person cannot care for, understand or cherish your child as you can. Banish the thought from your mind: At the very beginning of creation, God teaches us to be good parents and loving in-laws. From Eden on, the generational tide must turn.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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