I realize it’s been a long time since my last post; however, I assure you I haven’t fallen off the planet. However, I’ve written so many previous posts that you could literally spend hours upon hours of reading while keeping yourself busy, so I’m sure I haven’t been missed to badly. Regardless, I now have something to write about, so get a cup of coffee, find a comfortable sitting spot, and brace yourself for a fun and exciting post.
Although this is not as spiritual as some of my previous posts, it does, however, have a great message. I’ve titled this, “LeDor vaDor” or “L’dor v’dor.” The meaning is quite simple, but profound: From Generation to Generation. The scriptural passage is found in Psalm 103:31, which reads, “. . . And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever” (ESV). The idea is that Phinehas’ decision to act on behalf of Israel’s sin stayed (held back) the plague that was due them and it was to be considered a righteous act forever (vv. 29-30).
Now, here’s the cool part: Regardless if Phinehas had majorly stumbled or sinned in the future or did something so bad that his name was removed from the people of Israel, his action that day stood, and still stands as a righteous act and it’s accredited to Phinehas. Phinehas could have messed up for the rest of his life, but he would still be known as the man who acted righteously and because of him, the children of Israel escaped a plague and the wrath of God. (Talk about retirement!)
Anyhow, I’m sure you get the idea of what “from generation to generation forever” means by now, right? Well, this past weekend I went to, what some would call, “the armpit of hell“–Rawlins, WY.–for a family reunion. And, yeah, I’m sure I’ve used that phrase from time-to-time too, but overall I have some sweet, fond memories of the place; especially, spending time with family and friends when I was younger. Rawlins may look like a pile of cow-pooh from Interstate-80, but I assure you there are some quality people and places to visit in Rawlins. What’s comical is that almost always when Rawlins comes up in conversations I’m having, their responses are the same, “Oh, I know of Rawlins . . . I once got stuck there in a snow storm because they had to close down the interstate.” (I can’t tell you how many times this has happened, but it’s been a lot.)
Anyhow, back to the story! During our reunion, I got to meet some new cousins (2nd and 3rd) which I’ve never met. I also got to see aunts and uncles and other relatives I haven’t seen in 20 plus years! (We don’t get together as often as we should.) Actually, it was 21 years ago when we last gathered for the funeral of my grandmother, the matriarch of the Bernal clan. Joseph and Maria Bernal (my grandparents) had 12 children–6 boys, 6 girls–excluding one child who died at birth. Out of these remaining 12 children came hundreds of siblings. And, what’s amazing is that all 12 of these children are still alive! If all the Bernals produced from these 12 were to come to the reunion we would have increased the population of Rawlins by 15%! Well, not actually, but you get the picture.
When the biblical Yosef (Joseph) sent for his father Jacob (Israel), there were 70 in all that settled in Egypt. After 400+ years of hard labor and slavery, they left victoriously free with approximately 1.2 million people. This simple fact left me bewildered during our reunion when I looked at cousins I knew when I was a child, but would have never recognized them if I saw them at the mall.
What I also reflected on was the blessings that continue to follow the Bernal’s from generation to generation. While growing up, I was always put into feats of competition whether it was in boxing, swimming, basketball, baseball, wrestling, football, or whatever, and more often than not the final round or match or battle came down to cousin-a-cousin (mano-a-mano). It’s a little surprising that most of us didn’t become professional athletes; however, it’s not surprising that many of us competed at the collegiate level. We were driven to excel in everything and many of us did and continue to do so, whether it’s in raising our children or cheering on the next generation–we do it without apology.
So, what’s this got to do with l’dor v’dor? Well, as I looked at a newer generation–all great basketball players–and others that were good at golf, baseball, and other sports (including the collegiate level), I couldn’t help but to reflect on previous generations that must have set this into motion: the Bernal’s of the Pre-Inquisition peariod. They must have been strong and powerful swordsmen, loyal to their families, and champions of strength and confidence. And, just as the patriarch Abraham blessed his son Isaac, and Isaac blessed his son Jacob, and Jacob blessed his twelve children–all the while having God keeping His promises to each and every one of them–so my family has been blessed through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3). Not just them, but the many generations that followed including the Bernal’s of Spain. Yes, every family has skeletons-in-the-closet including my family, but so did Abraham and his children. They had lied and deceived others at times; however, God used them and He kept His promises with them and to them.
Reflecting on this, however far removed our Jewish heritage is, we are a family of rich heritage from Spain and Israel. Our name goes back to the pre-Spanish Inquisition period (Most likely during the Diaspora at the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 A.D., or during the Second Jewish revolt in 133-135 A.D.) and it means “Strong As A Bear.” Although we are average in height to many families, we have some that tower over others and many of us continue to express that name’s meaning whether it’s through physical strength, emotional strength, or mental strength (gently speaking, we are a strong-willed people). Our family shield(s) have three symbols to it, which one is the capital “T” or the “Torch” which stands for, “Champions of Tournaments!”
Another symbol is that of the “Greyhound Dog.” Its meaning is simply, “loyalty.” What’s amazing is that although we’ve gone 21 years without a family reunion, the loyalty to the family and the family name was great to see. And, finally, the last symbol is that of a “Castle,” which basically augments the Bernal name and its meaning; that being, “fortitude, strength, and strong shelter.”
As mentioned above, regardless of how Phinehas lived his life, he was accredited as being a righteous person for standing up for his people when they didn’t deserve it. Thus, however far removed the Bernal’s are from the family shield and name, including our rich Jewish and Spanish heritage, we are, nonetheless, recipients of the blessings that have been placed upon a man (Abraham), a people (his grandchildren), a nation (Israel), and a culture (Spanish/Jewish), including other nations and families where God’s blessings have flowed (Spain, America, and now down to the Bernal family).
My desire is that all my family will see this great and rich heritage that we’ve received and that we as a people (family) can embrace the greatest blessing of all, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) in a very real, and personal way from generation to generation, ledor vador.
Furthermore, may your family be as blessed as mine has been, is, and continues to be.