Tuesday, December 04, 2018


I am reading a book of short memoirs of Jews in Germany from the 18th C to just before WWII. I noticed early on that most of the stories were not only about the writer, but about his parents and grandparents, and even his wife's parents and grandparents.  It is usually necessary to say something about father and mother to describe one's own childhood, certainly, but there seemed a great deal more of this than I expected.  About a third of the entries are more about the parents than the writer!

Jews were gradually acquiring rights in Europe during that time, and making a living was still hard. In the later years there are stories of lawyers and professors, yet most of the book is about small merchants and middlemen, or people who scraped out a living as tutors in order to be able to read and discuss, whether religious matters or secular, during the bulk of one's hours. Though the sons sometimes record that the father and mother had no head for business or made bad decisions, most of the entries are taken with bragging about how clever, how learned, and how wise they were. There is some bragging by the writers about themselves, more of their prowess of students before they went into business (with emphasis that they were better students than the gentiles).  But far more is about the mothers, the fathers, the grandparents and how well-respected and learned they are. 

I though how different this is from our current culture. And I thought Honor Your Father and Your Mother.

1 comment:

Grim said...

One ought. It is good for the self to honor one's father and mother; even if they weren't much, aye, even if they were terrible. For what they did for you, you should honor them. A man who cannot love and honor his parents is as sick at heart as a man who cannot love and honor his country. Sick in the same way, and for just the same reason.