Bubbe and Zaide, Grandma and Grandpa, Saba and Savta–No matter what you call them, grandparents are special people in our lives.

Certainly many a grandparent relishes the carefree abandon with which they may spoil a grandchild. More than that, however, grandchildren are an assurance of the future. For instance, when Jacob sees Joseph’s children (his grandchildren) he feels assured of God’s blessing that his descendants will become a great nation. Only then does Jacob request that henceforth all of Israel should bless their children through the names of these grandsons: “May God make you as Ephraim and Menashe.” A third generation insures that there will be continuity.

Despite the rumors of hassle-free enjoyment, Jewish grandparents have an important role to play in the lives of their grandchildren. As it says in Deuteronomy (4:9), “And you will teach them [the miracles of Egypt and the wilderness] to your children and to your children’s children.”

Grandparents are often able to communicate with a grandchild in a way that the child’s own parents cannot. Grandparents often show grandchildren a new perspective on both the importance and the beauty of their Jewish heritage. That is why the Torah also directs the younger generation to seek out answers from their elders (Deuteronomy 32:7): “Ask your father and he will recount it to you, your grandparents and they will tell you.”

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