Ethical Will

        ABRAHAM ISAAC SAKLAD, founder of the Saklad family in this new world, came to the United States in the late nineteenth century.  After having established his family here, he went to Israel.  While there he wrote in verse an "ethical will" to his descendants.  This was received in this country by one of his sons, Jacob Gershon Saklad, in November, 1908.   Abraham Isaac Saklad eventually returned to Boston, Massachusetts, and died there.

        The "ethical will" is in the hands of his grandson, Meyer Saklad, who had it translated.  Unfortunately, the elegance and rythm of the original has been lost in the translation.

        Copies of the translation were printed to be distributed among the descendants of Abraham Isaac Saklad on the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah of his great-grandson, Michael Arthur Saklad.

June 11, 1954

Providence, R. I.



This little booklet was written
For you, my children and grandchildren
To remember and to treasure.

From your father and grandfather

Abraham Isaac Saklad


I intend to put down on this paper my old thoughts
     as clear as pure spring water.
My mind is still clear and keen.
I lack no words to express my thoughts,
     nor need I go afield for ideas.
I bethought myself therefore to record and explain to you
     my fondest beliefs, while still in possession of all my

I have through many years lived a full life,
     praised be His name.
With G-d's help I will be granted many more.
May you all live your years in happiness,
     and find blessing in all your endeavors.
Give heed to these words; do not put me to shame.
     Read them often, these words I place on paper for
     a remembrance to you.


Look to the ancestors from whom you stem.
Know well who brought you to this world.
This gardener has often watered the garden with his own
     tears, that the fruit thereof might thrive and grow well
     and sweet.
I watched over the blossoms, cared for them,
     protected them from the heat of the sun,
     to bring forth fruits lovely and sweet.
I shielded you with my wings.
I built my tent on firm foundations,
     that you may face the world strong and firm,
     with souls pure and morals high.
Now the garden has increased, blessed be His name.
The fruits thereof have multiplied manyfold,
     and the old stem has brought forth young branches.
Little children, tender doves, you must watch over them,
     and lead them in the ways of righteousness.

And so, on a Sabbath when you gather around a table,
     may you all be well and prosperous.
I beseech you to keep this, my request.
Read to the children these words of mine,
     the words I write with my own hands when full of
These words I lifted from the depths of my heart,
     and I write them here in the Land of Israel.
Read my words to them, and explain to them my thoughts
     in English or in pure Yiddish.
This little book is given to you by your ancestor
     to treasure all through the years of your lives.
This little book, though not a Holy Torah,
     should be to you, my children, a precious treasure.
These, then, are the thoughts,
     and these are the words of your grandfather.
Be still, my children, and listen.

Beloved children, I plead with you
     with tears in my eyes.
I charge you with an oath
     to keep this deep in your hearts:
Love G-d with all your hearts,
     and you will be spared from evil,
Be good Jews,
     and let all that is Jewish be close to your hearts.
For the Jew is distinct among the nations,
     wherever he may dwell upon this globe.
He is distinct by the Brith Milah,
     and the Jewish woman is to observe Chaloh, Nidah,
     and Tvilah.
The Jew must be of good conduct
     and above all must observe the Sabbath;
     do no manner of hard labor.
Because of the Sabbath you will find good luck and
     blessing in all your doings, and you will prosper all
     the other five days of the week.
Observance of the Sabbath is the greatest thing;
     for this, you will merit health and well being.

Should you, by chance, be employed in menial work,
     it matters not, for as long as the work is honest,
     your soul will be clean and at peace.
Do not forever strive to be a doctor or a lawyer,
     for therein is trouble and travail everywhere.
Do not treat others with deception,
     and keep away from strife.
Do not speak evil of others,
     and always be fair.
Pray to G-d daily with new vigor,
     and serve Him faithfully.
Honor your parents and obey them
     for they gave you life.
Respect others as you would have them respect you.
Beware of pride, but neither should you humble yourselves.
Help your brother with all your might,
     and the Father in Heaven will reward you for it.
Thank G-d morning and evening, and day by day
     be a support to the downtrodden everywhere.

Whatever you do, do honestly.
Beware of falsehood, and keep your conscience clear.
In your thoughts remember never to deceive.
In your actions always excel in good deeds.
Always exceed in charity.
Better than to read trite novels and romances,
     know well the story of your people.
Love the land of your forefathers,
     and come, like myself, to visit the Wailing Wall.
Dear Children, pay heed to these words;
Keep them impressed in your hearts.
Children, you are building a new world.
Build your world on firm foundations,
     and remember the teachings of our faith.
Remember the ways of your people, which I have taught you,
     and let them be unspoiled and whole.

These are the words of your father and grandfather,
     who asked G-d for a good charter.
In this charter are inscribed all the good wishes I selected.
Know you, then, what is inscribed upon this charter?
                         Vice president--Good luck
                         First trustee--Good life
All together they mean: health, good luck, good life and
And I, as secretary, propose that your life may be as rich
     as dew and rain.
May you, my dear doves, have pleasure in your parents
     and your parents in you.
May you have pleasure as plentiful
     as the water in the river.
Remember the words of your grandfather,
     and G-d, blessed is He, will reward you for this.
If you will read my words with delight,
     and if you will remember your grandfather,
Then will I rejoice in my writing,
     and my thoughts will not be in vain.
But how I should shiver at the thought
     should you take my words lightly.

Because I speak here of good manners,
     I want you to guard this manuscript well
In memory of a grandfather you once had,
     who could speak through his pen,
Whose mind was clear and keen,
     and whose handwriting is even at an advanced age
     so fine and clear.
Of his love for you, you were never aware;
     this you will know later.
In later years, much later, you will find it,
     when you grow in understanding and in mind.
I was never one to show his love openly to a child;
     this is soon forgotten and passes away.
In truth, I was never given to flattery,
     but you can find my love for you in these words of mine.
Flattery is not love;
     even though one flatters seven times seven
He is only deceiving,
     and all the nice words are but a mockery.

Do not think, my dear children,
     that your grandfather is no longer sound of mind.
"What has he written here?
     Of what value is it to us?"
These words of mine I have written strong of mind,
     and my heart flutters within me as in a fever.
I pour forth the feelings of my heart in these verses.
     What if these are my last words, G-d forbid?
Children, no one knows what the morrow will bring;
     Oh, this is our constant sorrow.
Man's life is but a limited few hours;
     he spends his life in doubt.
Man's years are but a counted few;
     each approaches nearer and nearer the end of the road.
Day follows upon day.
One day differs from the other.
There comes a day of joy and pleasure
     and the world is bright and gay.
But there comes a day of adversity
     when health is gone and sickness assails you.
Then, G-d in His mercy grants you health again,
     and what a wonderful gift this is.

Therefore man should always know
     what he is and what he may become.
Never think he is great
     and strong as a giant.
It happened to me, for instance;
I came upon troubled times.
If you are to know what befell me,
     you must continue to read my words.
There is a moral in it for everyone,
     and you must believe it.
Man must at all times praise G-d
     and serve Him faithfully.
Listen, my dear children,
     to G-d's great wonder;
Several months ago, my life was hanging by a hair.
What ailed me, then, you have been told in a letter.
But when my illness was hard upon me
     and the doctor had to withdraw my fluids,
My pain was unbearable,
     and I found no comfort in bed.
Many days passed by thus.
Doctors could no longer help me.
My mind was clouded, my pain was deep.
I could not even say my last farewell.

My friends all dismayed,
     called more doctors to relieve my pain.
They prayed for me and wept bitterly.
They gathered in the Beth Hamidrosh
     to chant Psalms in my name.
Finally two doctors came.
They studied me, but to no avail.
Two days, maybe three,
     and then, the end.
Well did I know what they meant.
My coursing blood stood still within my veins.
I wept hot tears, and poured my soul out to G-d
     in prayer, in supplication and confession
     until I fell exhausted into a deep sleep.

But good fortune was mine;
G-d granted me my life.
For, in the middle of the night when I was faint and weak,
     help came to me.
I arose and with faith and courage,
     with love and with joy,
     I accepted what was in store for me.
With morning a good friend came
     and with him a stranger.
He prepared a hot medicine bath,
     and this I took.
Though weakened greatly by this bath,
     my pain was very much relieved.
I thanked and blessed the L-rd,
     with great joy and a grateful heart,
     for giving me back my life.

Although my pain is still with me,
     how can words ever express my thanks?
My heart is full to break.
I thank G-d all the time for his great mercy
     and for his healing hand.
And so, my children, let this story
     teach you what G-d can do.
Do not laugh, nor think me feeble.
My words are written in reverence.
Think well of me at all times.
Do not be ashamed of your Grandfather Saklad.
You can see that I do not deserve it.
I am not a scholar,
     nor do I possess great wisdom.
But the fox is like an empty vessel
     in my eyes.