A Unique Conference Call 
The joy of growing up in a large family. 
by Rabbi Zushe Greenberg

Just a while ago, I took part in a telephone conference call involving 29 people. It was not a business venture, but a personal matter. Lines from the Ukraine, France, Alaska, Texas, New York and Solon, Ohio, buzzed to Israel to wish my mother a happy 60th birthday. 

What made this call so special was that it symbolized the profound blessings of a large family. All of the callers were my mother's children, - sons and daughters plus sons & daughters-in-law. Everyone had the opportunity to extend words of good wishes. 

After this 25 minute congratulatory roll call, one of my sisters asked, " What's the secret of your success ? How did you manage to not only survive raising such a large family, (Blee Ayin Harah) but also raise such stable, happy, accomplished and self confident kids like us !? " My mother chuckled at her "self confidence", and in her non assuming and practical manner, she insisted that it was no great feat. " You just take one day at a time," she stated, " and one child at a time, then do what needs to be done. !" We all demanded a better explanation. " How was it that you didn't worry about finances, space, and simply providing the basic needs like clothing and food ?" another brother asked. At this point my father entered the conversation " You're forgetting the full picture." he said, sharing a synopsis of his life story. 

When he was 12 years old, he was fleeing from Hitler in Romania, and ended up in Communist Russia. There he suffered constant persecution for his religious beliefs, while at the same time was denied exit visas. 

At age 19 he finally tried to cross the border to Poland. He was double-crossed as his "guide" delivered him straight to the Russian Police. He was sentenced to 25 years hard labor in the Siberian Prison Camps. When Stalin mercifully died seven years later, my father, and all the political prisoners were set free. 

He never dreamed that he would survive these events, but he did. He also never dreamed that he would find a Jewish girl who shared his religions beliefs and was ready for the self sacrifice necessary to raise an observant family in Communist Russia, but then he found my mother. In 1967, my family, myself included, received permission to leave the USSR, way before the Iron Curtain fell. We traveled to and settled in Israel. 

" After all these miracles," my father concluded, " I should worry about a few pieces of bread ?? If G‑d gave me the strength to survive all the hardships, surely He could give me the strength to provide the needs of my family. " We all fell silent and thought about his philosophy. 

Judaism teaches that children are the most cherished Divine blessing known to mankind. Not only are they a blessing, but Tradition teaches us that every additional child brings a new flow of blessings to a family. Each child does not decrease from the material, financial and spiritual stability of the home, the family members actually benefit from the Divine blessings that each child brings. 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose Yahrtzeit is this week, once said that it is unnecessary for us to take over G‑d's bookkeeping and accounting to figure out how many children He is able to care for. "He who feeds and sustains the whole world " he said, " is able to take care of the children as well as the parents." And the matter of food supply in the world ? What the food supply will be like tomorrow morning I cannot say. What I can say is that any starvation in this world today is not a matter of supply but of distribution. The solution lies in political decisions. One less child in suburban America will not help a single starving Somalian child. 

Now that I have a wife and children of my own, I can truly appreciate the amazing dedication and self sacrifice of my parents, as well as all those who are blessed with large families. I know that it takes laughter, tears, and long nights to raise each child; and I know the Nachas, the pride, joy and happiness that each child. I truly admire those that willingly set aside the best years of their life, and dedicate them to raising a generation of active, giving adults. Each of these future adults, will make their own unique contribution to the Jewish nation as well as to all of humanity. Each child is infinite in potential, absolutely beyond prediction. Every child has his or her own unduplicated gift to present to the world, and those that bring him or her into existence, are enriching humankind. 

A Jewish woman, expecting her fifth child, was walking in her garden when her neighbor looked over, and called out, " What - another one ?? How many children are you planning to have?" 

She had heard this question many times before. She smiled, and immediately replied, "Six Million!"