By Malkie Gordon Hirsch

As I watched his little form make its way to the back of the school building to the location of the weekly “father-and-son learning,” I realized how different he was than most boys his age.

Or maybe just most boys, period.

I certainly wasn’t like that as a 7-year-old, and I wonder how different he would’ve been if he hadn’t lost his father at the tender age of 4.

Now that his baby sister Rosie is at that age, I only now understand how young an age that is to withstand that type of trauma, and maybe also what it does to someone’s character when they decide that falling victim to circumstance is simply not an option.

Gavriel’s name was the only one I chose that wasn’t a family name.

His three older brothers were named for their grandfathers and at that time, my mother’s father was still alive and I was having baby boys like it was going out of style, so as my doctor announced the arrival of my fourth son and the first family redheaded grandson, I thought of my long-awaited favorite male name and how I finally was about to have the chance to say it often.

Gavriel.

Strength.

Fiery redhead.

It just fit.

The Ari HaKodesh taught that parents are imbued with Ruach HaKodesh when naming their children, and the name they select is inevitably the true description of their child’s neshama.

The Gemara in Yumah (83b) states that a Jewish person’s name accurately reflects his or her essential character.

And with this name selection, I’m certain they were right.

Although he’s still considered really young, he and my kids have all had to grow up pretty quickly and have done so in their own individual ways.

Dovid, the resident quiet and serious “doer,” Nison with humor, Yosef with being my support in household chores and all-around help, and Gavi with his fiercely independent nature. I see his character coming through in different ways.

The way he wanted to attend “avos ubanim” last Saturday night and knew he’d need a father to take him so he asked his rebbi after class one day.

The only reason I knew about it was because his rebbi followed up with me to arrange transport and meeting time.

The way he wants to go into the pizza store alone and operate the new-age kiosk that enables you to order your food through a computer instead of in person.

He walked outside and as I rolled the window down, he explained that he needed a credit card to insert into the computer instead of the cash I had given him.

He walked back inside, took the ticket printed after the machine processed his payment and helped the woman behind him operate the machine for her order as well.

He’s never overwhelmed with new tasks and has no issue asking for help if he needs it.

He’s been waking up with his little sister for years and giving her breakfast before I make it downstairs. He’ll stay with her if I have short errands to run or have to pick up his siblings and I trust him entirely.

He’s adapted the same type of attitude that anyone who’s been witness to tough times invariably does—it’s a logic that states “I’d rather be elsewhere or be dealing with easier but this is what’s been handed to me. I am here and I will work with what I have.” It’s the art of adaption and it’s the secret strength that some might view as weakness.

After all, the kid doesn’t have his father but he’s learning how to get the things he needs by asking or learning about how to operate.

It’s recycling pain and turning it into power, and ultimately being a person that others learn from instead of pity. Gavi is that type of person and I see it clearly even though he’s just starting out in his young life.

He takes what’s given and uses it to the best of his ability.

He’s definitely got those moments (and more than his share of them) that make him look like any other kid—the temper tantrums, the door slamming, and the sibling rivalry. There’s also plenty of “Gavriel!!!” being said in my house when I need to remind him that he’s a kid who needs to follow rules and listen to me.

But the parts I recognize in those quiet moments of the person he’s yet to become are the ones I look forward to developing, with G-d’s help.

The power of Gavriel lies in the strength of his character and I can’t wait to see how his life plays out.

I look forward to what’s yet to come. 

Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, a social media influencer, veteran real estate agent, and runs a patisserie in Woodmere.

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