By Yochanan Gordon

I am filled with tremendous gratitude over the birth of our newest daughter, Sarah Rosa, who was born to my wife and me this past Sunday at Winthrop Hospital under the excellent care of Dr. Jonathan Herman (more on him later).

We named her Sarah Rosa after my paternal grandmother, the wife of Rabbi Nison Gordon, z’l, for whom our first son was named. Due to tight COVID regulations and the prohibition against any unvaccinated husbands leaving hospital premises and returning, I sent my father on Monday, the day following the birth, to name our newest daughter at the sefer Torah. It certainly wasn’t pre-scripted but at the end, my father called me from the Torah, at which point I relayed the name we had decided upon in order to insert it at the appropriate place within the Mishebeirach. I guess he wasn’t expecting us to name our daughter after his mother, because after I said the name, he asked me to repeat it to ensure he had heard me correctly. It was a very touching moment, though it wasn’t planned that way.

One day is certainly not enough time to decide on a name. Interestingly, one of the post-delivery nurses, Tzippy Shteierman, who is also a neighbor of ours, thought that based on my name, Yochanan, I was a follower of the Stoliner Chassidic dynasty, like her husband. In the course of that conversation, she mentioned the Stoliner tradition of naming the girls on the second Shabbos after delivery. It certainly made a lot of sense from the point of view of not having to figure out the name in the thick of post-delivery recovery, but at the same time seemed like a lot of time to have a nameless baby.

I am not going to write much about the events surrounding the birth of our daughter, as my sister Malkie beat me to it. If you are the type who starts with the front page and progressively advances through the paper, then you certainly have read her column and know all there is to know on that topic; now I move on.

There are definitely two types of women when it comes to delivering: those who embrace the adventure and mystery within each labor and seek to deliver naturally, and then there are those, like my sister Malkie, who opt to plan each birth in advance, regardless of the longer recovery, in order to cut out the suddenness, adventure, and excitement that surrounds going into labor and having to hightail it to the hospital, followed by the intensity of the birthing process. So, although two out of our six children were born through cesarean section, it wasn’t the planned type and came after hours of labor, ending anticlimactically with the need to operate in order to extricate the baby in the safest manner. As such, each delivery was a unique experience that brought along its own set of challenges, which we seemingly forget about between one child and the next, a preprogrammed feature, I believe, to ensure the perpetuity of mankind.

You would think that after five births I would have figured out a tefillah or segulah at childbirth that is tried and true, but up until this time around, I can’t say that I have. Even in the time leading up to the birth of Sarah Rosa, I hadn’t researched the formula that other people have become accustomed to reciting while the labor is under way. This time, however, as we settled into the New Life section of Winthrop Hospital, I received a WhatsApp message from my mother-in-law with a tefillah whose origin is from the Sefer Likkutei Eitzos based on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. It said there that reciting the name of the mother of Avraham Avinu, Amatlai bas Karnivo, followed by the chapter in Tehillim Mizmor L’Sodah 91 times (the numerical equivalence of the word “tzei,” meaning to exit or go out), and subsequently whispering into the right ear, “Kori, kori,” and into the left ear, “Tzei, tzei,” will result in the child’s immediate birth.

But first we need to understand what childbirth represents. We must be attentive to where the soul of the child is coming from and the purpose behind its entrance into this world, to ultimately fuse the limitlessness of heaven within the finiteness of this world. Ultimately, the gratitude built within the holiday of Chanukah and the light of the eighth realm penetrating this world of sevens is meant to convey the same idea of fusing the light and eternal life of the messianic world with the limitations of this world. Chapter 100 in Psalms, Mizmor L’Sodah, opens with the verse, “Hori’u laHashem kol ha’aretz,” which possesses the opening letters that spell “halachah.”

Halachah, Jewish law, is the system through which we live our lives in the multiplicity of this world based on the unity of G-d. Our ability to unite the multifarious experiences of our lives and the multiplicity inherent within existence is the manifestation of the light of G-d within reality and is the achievement of todah, gratitude, and joy in the joining of these two disparate forces. It represents a point in time wherein the fusion between the Divine unity and the multiplicity of existence gives way to an even deeper unity beyond anything that was experienced prior to the birth of mankind. This is just a short synopsis of a teaching of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, in the second volume of Likutei Maharan, the second lesson in the volume, which certainly doesn’t do it justice. However, it does highlight the important connection between childbirth and gratitude. As such I feel an obligation here, after being the beneficiary of so many people on so many levels, to acknowledge the goodness and beneficence of which we have been the recipients in the last week or so.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the great expertise of Dr. Jonathan Herman. Your dedication to honoring my wife’s wish of a natural delivery after a second C-section and believing in her ability to achieve that even when one thought it would not occur is so appreciated. The fusion between your focus upon your trade and friendship to put your patient at ease strikes the perfect balance and made a huge difference in the outcome. Tzippy Shteierman, our neighbor, friend, and post-delivery nurse whose kindness, care, and dedication were just what was needed to set the post-delivery recovery in motion, was literally a godsend at a very crucial time in the new life of our dearest Sarah Rosa and an important part of my wife’s quick recovery and ability to be discharged so quickly. I said I wasn’t going to write anything about the events surrounding this birth, but I had to acknowledge the assistance of my brother-in-law Eli Hazan, who joined us over Shabbos at our nephew Nison Hirsch’s bar mitzvah specifically to be there to look after our kids in the event that we had to hightail it out of the hotel, which happened at the end. My brother Dovi for looking after our Ariella this past Sunday, driving her home from the hotel, getting her to gymnastics on time, and from there to her friend’s home. To all our friends who joined the meal train to provide fresh and wholesome dinners for at least two weeks. The willingness of people to spring into action and get involved to do kindness on our behalf is truly inspiring. My parents and siblings for coming together to buy our Rosie her very first Bugaboo. To my sister Dini for always being involved in figuring out just what is needed and springing into swift action to corral the forces and make it happen. And to my brother-in-law Avromi for driving my mother-in-law to the hospital at 3 a.m. and thereafter bringing us things that we needed during our hospital stay. My mother-in-law for being there at Chani’s side throughout the delivery and at home afterwards, allowing me to maintain a regular learning and working schedule while Chani and the new baby get the best care while we wait for the availability of a baby nurse; and my father-in-law for encouraging her to be there.

This is just a snapshot of all the people who came together this past week on our behalf to usher our new addition into a world of goodness and kindness. It is our fervent hope that the good deeds of so many disparate forces, activated by the Divine unity, will lead to the birth of that deeper unity and the entrance of a new age and a perfected world. 

Yochanan Gordon can be reached at Read more of Yochanan’s articles at


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