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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Which son are you, Caleb?

In an earlier post, I reported that Caleb Jacoby, the son of Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, is missing. This is a column that Jeff wrote in the form of a letter to Caleb a few years ago (I remember reading it at the time) (Hat Tip: NY Nana).
Early on, the Haggadah introduces the Four Sons -- the four types of children a parent must teach. "One is wise," the ancient text reads, "one wicked, one simple, and one does not know how to ask."

Which son are you?

In a way, you have been all of them: You were once a bright and lively toddler, too young for questions, taking everything on faith. With speech came "simple" curiosity, along with an endless train of ingenuous questions about everything. Now, at age 12, you are becoming quite the adolescent, with a streak of "wicked" obstinacy -- quick to challenge your parents' views and to ask why their opinions should carry greater weight than yours. Then again, you have moments of wondrous maturity and good judgment, when your strong intelligence shows hints of the wise adult I hope you will become.

Which is the real you, Caleb? Are you the budding philosopher who has taken to insisting lately that "nothing really matters," since no matter what any of us does or doesn't do, the universe won't notice? Or the perennial naysayer who surprised me by saying yes when I proposed that you sign up for sailing lessons at Community Boating -- and then surprised me even more by thoroughly enjoying the experience? Are you the sarcastic kid who mocks Mama when she loses her patience with you? Or the affectionate big brother who lavishes attention on Micah? Is the authentic Caleb the sometimes sullen pre-teen with the seemingly bottomless reserve of grievance and indignation? Or the industrious helper who for the last few days has rolled up his sleeves and good-naturedly pitched in to get the house ready for Passover?

Last December you came with me to Washington and a reception at the White House. Even now I smile at the recollection of how engaging you were, and how pleasant your company. For 24 delightful hours, nothing provoked an argument or spoiled your amiability -- not even when you hungrily forked a mouthful of what you thought was lox, only to discover, standing there in the State Dining Room buffet line, that you were chewing on a mouthful of excruciatingly sharp ginger.

Life is sometimes like that: It feeds you raw ginger when you think you're getting smoked lox. No one escapes occasional disappointments or unwelcome surprises, and one aspect of maturity is being able to meet them with equanimity. I can't say you always manage it. But just as your 12-year-old body increasingly prefigures the man you're becoming, your behavior and temperament today -- even with the storms and stresses of adolescence -- are gradually resolving themselves into the good and upright character that I am confident will be your hallmark tomorrow.

Read the whole thing. And pray for Caleb's safe return.

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At 2:22 PM, Blogger Inmemoryof Yossi said...

The really sad thing is that the rebbe often spoke of a fifth son. The one who isn't even there.

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Moriah said...

Would it be so terrible to hope there is a girl involved?


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