Tuesday, November 09, 2010

My Bris Speech for My Son Ranan Elisha, n"y

Good morning everyone, before I begin I’d like to publicly and profusely thank everyone in attendance, anyone who has made an extended effort to be here, everyone who has lent us a hand over the past week, Rabbi Krohn for his fine work, and especially, I’d like to thank my mother-in-law, for all the help she’s provided us in its many forms over the past several weeks. She is so valued to us that my wife and I refer to her in e-mails as capital M, capital O, capital M.

I also am grateful to my son and my wife, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

It says in the closing psukim of Megilas Ruth: Vayiled ben l’Naomi! She’s done it again! She’s brought life into the world. Of course she had some assists in various forms: I got psicha about 17 times in the last month and the Rabbi actually vinched us that the week in which Ranan was eventually born should be the last week that anyone says bsha’ah tovah to us. Uh! It worked! And all the bsha’ah tovah brochas we received also came true!

Our boy was born at the most convenient time imaginable! He wasn’t born on Monday where I’d have to worry about wrangling a ba’al koreh and trying to figure out more kibbudim. He wasn’t born on Shabbos, he wasn’t born too close to Shabbos, he didn’t interfere with any of our scheduled commitments and board meetings. He did not keep me from voting. He did not force me to reschedule my pre-marathon physical, and of course, he wasn’t born on marathon Sunday or the week before marathon Sunday. Thank you!!!

As we all know, the mitzvah of pru irvu is the man’s mitzvah, but the woman does all the work.

This concept got me thinking about other mitzvahs where a person goes through a massive amount of effort and someone else gets all the credit.

The first thing that comes to mind is milah. It is my responsibility to perform the bris on my son, but since I’m not qualified, I had to hand it over to a capable agent. The mohel does all the surgical work and I get the points.

Shchita is another example. The food is prepared with precision (and the more chasidish, the better), but the consumer get the credit when he makes a brocha, because of the fact that it’s kosher!

Another example is kiddushin. The actual act of kinyan is quite basic from a chosson’s point of view, but the halachic details and edim and contracts and procedures are all done by the mesader kiddushin, who doesn’t get any mitzvah for his work. It’s all so the chosson can perform his obligation properly.

One more example is ner Shabbos. It’s the woman’s mitzvah to light the lecht, but it falls to the husband to prepare them for her. It’s not exactly a halacha, but it’s brought down in several sources that this is the husband’s obligation to ensure that his wife can easily light the neros for Shabbos. She has a million other stresses and shouldn’t have to worry about this one.

Looking at this list and other examples that I thought of, it was apparent to me that the most difficult “shlichos” to endure is probably childbirth, and the easiest must be the Shabbos candle preparation. Another way that these two contrasted was that there is a physical limit to the length of time that a woman is able to bear children, but there is none to candlelighting.

There’s a lesson here, at least for me. Now here’s the part where the men stick their fingers in their ears and say nananananana, and the women go awwwwww.

The lesson is that a man has to, week after week, for the rest of his life, for his wife, do the most basic task in the world on her behalf to repay the favor to his wife who endured the most difficult thing in the world on his behalf.

Considering this thought, in regards to my wife, it is well known what she brings to the table on behalf of our shul, of her community, of our children’s schools. Her involvement and random acts of kindness are legend.

Now you may think that she has spread herself too thin, but let. Me. Be. Clear. I have been fortunate enough to be the chief beneficiary of her benevolence, including the most incredible gift of three children.

I therefore declare to my wife that I will endeavor for the rest of my existence on a persistent basis to be worthy, and deserve, her everlasting love and eternal kindness.

So our son’s name is Ranan Elisha. It’s not Ra’anan, it’s Ranan. Ra’anan means “fresh.” Ranan means to sing joyfully. But where does this name come from? Who’s Ranan? Who’s Elisha? There’s nobody we know of by that name in our families. So why did we give him this name?

We’ll have you know that there are ten reasons our son is named what he’s named, and these are they:

Reason # 1. Because it’s his name. We believe that a certain form of ruach hakodesh is invested in prospective parents, and the name that is chosen represents the nature of that person. Naomi and I actually picked this name before Naava was born, and it would have been her name had she been a boy. In Freddy’s case, he was named for his great-grandfather, who had recently passed. So the name has been in a holster all this time, and finally given to our son.

Reason # 2. We love what the name means. Name definitions are important to me and my wife. Given a choice, we prefer to give names that express emotionally how we feel about our little blessing, and in Ranan Elisha’s case, we indeed sing joyfully, for G-d is indeed gracious.

Reason # 3. Ranan is the key word in my favorite Shabbos zmira: libi ivsoori yeranani l’kel choi! My heart and my flesh sing joyfully to the living G-d!, exactly how we’re feeling right now.

Reason # 4. His name is a nod to my three fathers. I’m sure no one but me has noticed that the second name of each of my fathers is an expression of joy. My father’s second name is Yom tov, my Aba’s second name is Simcha, and my shver’s second name is Yitzchok. Therefore, our son’s first name is Ranan, which completes this circle of joyfulness.

Reason # 5. It is good for a man to be invested with some female sensitivity. His name is therefore an acronym for the women that have immediately preceded him in life. Raish for his grandmother Rochelle, Nun for his mother Naomi and Nun for his sister Naava.

So that’s why he’s named Ranan. What about Elisha?

Reason # 6. He is named, in a way, for my parents. My father’s first name is Chananya, which means G-d is gracious. My mother’s first name is Chantze which means the same thing and our son’s name is Elisha, which means the same thing.

Reason # 7. Elisha is the name of the ultimate disciple. It is good to be a leader, but it is also good to be a great follower. My wife and I are proud of some of our accomplishments. Why wouldn’t I want him to be a runner like me or super-geshikt like his mother? That’d be awesome!

Reason # 8. Elisha is noted in Navi as a runner. He ran to do Elijah’s bidding and the bidding of his people. He ran to Elijah when he first met him and ran after him when he ascended to heaven. Additionally, Elijah placed his coat over him as a way of “passing the baton,” and when he went up to heaven he did so in a “chariot of fire.” Get it? Work with me, people.

Reason #9. This one was a series of silly puns that were vetoed by my Editor-in-Chief. So if you’re a sports fan, a running enthusiast or if you like comic books, I’d be glad to relay them to you upon request.

Reason # 10. Some of you may have noticed that our son’s initials are R.E.B., which possibly indicates that he might be a rebbe or a rebel, because we do have bechira in life, which brings me to my brocha for my son.

I should first mention that one of the things I enjoy about my extended British family is that the Brits take care to personalize their blessings. Here in the states, you get stock brochas. Before a child is born, it’s b’sha’ah tovah, once he’s born, the bris should be bizmanoh, at the bris, it’s l’torah l’chupa l’maasim tovim, once he gets to the chupa, it’s build a bayis ne’eman b’yisroel. Baw-ring! Very cherished, very appreciated, very valued, but boring.

So my brocha for my son is: you should make good decisions in your life. If you have a choice to be a rebbe or a rebel, be a rebbe. If you have a choice between tov v’ra, choose tov. And if you have a choice between chaim v’moves - and we are inevitably confronted with these kinds of decisions at some point in our lives – remember my son, that I adjured you on the day of your bris in front of all these witnesses, always always always, iboochartoo b’chayim, iboochartoo b’chayim!

If you make the good and proper decisions in life, I vinch you oon that you should be zoche to the first pasuk of the aliyah I received during the week of your shalom zachor:

וַיִּגְדַּל הָאִישׁ וַיֵּלֶךְ הָלֹוךְ וְגָדֵל עַד כִּֽי־גָדַל מְאֹֽד׃

The man grew great, and grew more and more until he became very great.

May you grow great, grow more and more until you become very great, and of course, you should be zoche l’gadlo l’torah l’chupa ul’masim tovim.

So I have finished a masechte in honor of my son. My family may have noticed that when I finished the masechte I didn’t send out my usual e-mail. This was because I usually dedicate it to somebody, but our son wasn’t born yet. I had learned it in honor of something sheloi ba l’olam.

But now that he has a name, I can finally declare that I learned it in his honor.

I should first say that it is an honor again to finish a masechte in my grandfather’s presence. He will be 92 next month, I’YH, and he now has over 70 great-grandchildren, and he just witnessed the marriage of two of his great-grandchildren. My brocha to him is that he should be zoche soon to have his great-grandchildren exceed the number of his years.

Let us now conclude masechtes Avodah Zorah, in honor of bni Ranan Elisha and l’chavod my zaidy, Reb Bentzion ben Reb Aharon…


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