On Monday, I had the privilege in shul to name a second grandchild for my mom, Sora Rosa. This is the second grandchild born since her passing 15 months ago. Until just the other day, I thought this was mostly a private event, and while it was deeply meaningful, there really wasn’t a compelling importance to share it in this space.
But as you can see, I’ve since changed my mind and there are now a few reasons why. But first, as long as I am free-associating, let me say that there are a number of things on my mind. Firstly, once again, baruch Hashem, summer is approaching. I like that, after all, what is not to like about summer? It is arguably the best and greatest season of all. And it has been an especially long winter with the outdoor temperature seemingly stuck somewhere between the 40- and 50-degree range until fairly recently.
In addition to that, I am currently in the midst of redding a shidduch that I’m not free to expound on here — and I don’t know if I will ever be able to say any more about it — but it will have to be sufficient for now to say that it is very fascinating in the twists and turns it is presenting to a shidduch novice like myself. I’m not exactly sure where it is going, though I think it will end in a positive way, and I do hope at some point over the summer to report on the experience, but only, of course, with the consent of the participants. If they do not agree, then dancing around the subject like I am doing now will have to satisfy the information seekers out there.
Then there is the matter of my son and daughter-in-law who, as you may recall, got married during the week I was sitting shivah for my mother just about 15 months ago. I will always reflect upon those days with bemusement, still unable to fully grasp the uniqueness and specialness of those conflicting emotions playing themselves out almost simultaneously on a dance floor and a low-to-the-ground leather shivah chair on the same day.
So this past Shabbos afternoon, at about 5 p.m., this couple produced a baby girl who, on Monday, as I stated above, was named for my mother. And no, it wasn’t a surprise, because as it turns out, of the four of us — my daughter-in-law’s parents, my wife, and me — I’m the only one without a mom. Tradition being what it is, it was pretty clear this child was going to carry my mother’s name, though it is our personal practice not to insert ourselves into these things and to allow the young people to figure it out and do as they please.
Now, even though it was somewhat obvious how this was going to turn out, for me it was still an event laden with intense emotion that I cannot say I was expecting.
I was just explaining what was taking place the other day to a friend and how the matter rushed me as I was standing at the bimah on Monday morning, having been given the opportunity to formally name the child. The rabbi in the shul pointed to the rather simple paragraph I would recite that officially assigns a name to the newborn. My son, who was born in 1992, was named after my father, Nison, a’h. And now his child, his first, would carry my mother’s name, Sora Rosa. The idea that struck most profoundly was the recitation in that paragraph of the two names side by side; in this instance, it was Sora Rosa bas Nison. And all this was taking place a day after what would have been their 74th wedding anniversary.
It was a beautiful sunny and already warm Monday morning here in New York. About an hour after we named the child in shul I received an unexpected call from two of my cousins, Moshe and Kraindy, who were in Israel. They said that they were heading back to Jerusalem from up north, saw the sign to Bet Shemesh, and thought about stopping by to visit the kevarim of my parents high up on that mountain overlooking the impressive terrain of the Judean Hills.
Moshe said to me over the phone that he was going to tell my mother that there was a new child carrying her name. I said to him that I appreciated that, but I had a feeling that she already knew in whatever realm that information is communicated from here to there. His response was that it is our obligation to transfer the information in the conventional fashion, the way we do those types of things here in this world.
I heard what he had to say and I was intrigued by the idea. I felt particularly fortunate that they took it upon themselves to turn off the road and head for the cemetery in Bet Shemesh.
On the matter of the new baby’s name, let me explain one more thing. About six months ago, my daughter, Malkie, gave birth to a baby girl who is named for my mom. At the time though, my son-in-law, Moshe, had a grandmother who had half of my mom’s name: Sora. So they named the baby Rosa (or Roza, depending on the pronunciation you prefer). The fact is that this was the name that my mom was known by through all her years — Rozy or, more formally, Rosalind. That was a great and satisfying day as it came just a few months after my mother’s passing at the age of 95.
For a father and grandfather, the arrival of a new child, a representative of what will no doubt be a great and glorious future, the naming of the child for a person who preceded us by perhaps as much as a century is the connection or the creation of a circuit that links our personal as well as national history with the present and the future.
Our sages say that the naming of a child contains within it elements of Divine inspiration as the assignation of a name is not just for the purposes of identity but something that speaks volumes about the nature and character of the person. Knowing my Mom the way I did — all my life — I can attest that these kids have a lot to live up to and aspire to. They are a combination of the past and future, of what was and what will be, and for the now five-day-old baby, Sora Rosa bas Nison, a full-circle only a grandparent can fully understand or appreciate. We wish mazal tov and overflowing nachas to all.