Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying, “On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household. (Shemos 12:3)
And these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt; with Yaakov, each man and his household came. (Shemos 1:1)
The Mitzvah of Chanuka is: A candle for each man and his household! (Shabbos 21B)
In his Haggadah, Rav Hirsch ztl. notes that the Jewish People were organized as a household unit when they entered the exile and they were also configured as households at the time of the exodus just as we find ourselves on Pesach ever since- not in a stadium but rather at home! On Chanukah too, we rally around the Menorah as a household. The survival of the Jewish People and all civilization, as well, is dependent on the welfare of the family!
About the importance of the home as a primary survival unit he writes: “To inherit a home and to build a home – this encompasses a Jew’s ethical vocation on earth. Is it not the sine qua non for the hopes and perfection of all nations? If only this great Magna Carta were consulted wherever education and culture, peace and salvation of men and mankind are discussed. For the fate of men, their success or failure, is decided neither in the chambers of rulers nor on the battlefield. It is not decided in business concerns, in colleges and institutions of arts and sciences or in houses of worship. It is sealed only in one place, in the parental home…There exists no substitute for the home, and if one is looking elsewhere for the source of peace and prosperity, he is searching in vain. All of a nations politics and diplomacy, its theories of national economy and institutions for mass education, its trade and industry, its schools and community centers – none of these will save the people from extinction if they let the parental home become a parody. Are children born for the sake of the state’s false concern instead of the warm love of parents? Does the census show ever-growing numbers of children without parents and parents without children? Does the nation’s high society make a mockery of morality and modesty? If so, then all the palaces it is building are founded on quicksand.”
Many years ago, now, my oldest son was just returning from learning in Israel. He was ripe and ready for Shiduchim and we had a stack of resumes of wonderful prospects. My wife and I kept shuffling the papers and as we did we found ourselves getting more confused. This is obviously an important life decision. Every resume, which is admittedly a woefully deficient and two-dimensional representation of a complete person, looked interesting and inviting for different reasons. We could not figure out what was really important. Head of GO, valedictorian, wealthy father, a famous family name, beauty, a good job, a brilliant academic career, which factor or combinations of factors should be attracting our attention.
We decided to call our Rebbe. At that time, he had married off 13 of his 14 children and shortly afterwards the 14th as well. He learns 60 Daf of Gemora every day for more than 50 years and we were thinking that perhaps, just perhaps he might have an extra insight or some real-life experience to help us navigate this confusing process. So, one evening we secluded ourselves in a quiet room and made the phone call. He was in Florida at the time convalescing from a shoulder injury. He picked up the phone and greeted me enthusiastically and I told him that I am here with my wife listening and we are trying to figure out what to look for in a Shidduch. My wife sat poised with her pen ready to start writing every word he would utter.
There wasn’t a moment of hesitation and he said the following, “A family! A girl comes from a family! Look for a family!” My wife was just beginning to transcribe and then he said something very surprising. He said, “Good night!” and the call ended. I was about to ask if there is anything else or what about a family, but the call was over. My wife asked, “Did we fumble the call?” I told her, “I don’t think so! He said ‘Good night!’”
We sat there in stunned silence. All he said was, “Look for a family!” Then it dawned on us that if that’s all he mentioned, then that must be the most important factor. A girl comes from a family! A boy comes from a family! Together they will build a new family. Therefore, the most important thing must be a family!