Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, long time friend of Ascent and Rosh Yeshiva of Od Yosef Chai in Shechem and head of Gal Enai (www.inner.org), was the sandek (the individual who holds the infant at the time of the circumcision) at the brit mila of Elazar Yitzchak Leiter, which took place on Lag B'omer several years ago. The following are paraphrases of Rabbi Ginsburgh's talk about the baby's two names, Elazar Yitzchak:

A child's name is revealed to the parents by divine inspiration and also indicates the baby's talents and goals in life. Elazar was the son of Aaron, the first high priest. Yitzchak, or Isaac, was the son of the first forefather, Abraham. While both Elazar and Yitzchak were famous because of their righteous fathers, they each had special qualities that surpassed their fathers. In addition, both were also very connected to the Land of Israel. Elazar was the high priest who led the Jews into the Holy Land after his father's passing. Yitzchak was the only one of our forefathers who was forbidden to leave Israel because of his elevated spiritual level. Lag B'omer, famous as the day of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's passing, is also a special day for his son, Elazar, who inherited his father's place from that day forward. Rabbi Ginsburgh emphasized that while a son is secondary to his father; sometimes the son is primary because he is his father's son.

Rabbi Ginsburgh also connected the event with the Torah reading of the week, Bechukotai, by citing the Talmudic discussion of the first verse, "If you will go with My statutes" (Lev. 26:3). The word "if", in Hebrew "im", has the same letters as the word for "mother", "em". The Talmud (Avoda Zara 5a) suggests that we use the alternative meaning to read the verse: "One goes with My statues because of one's mother". One's mother helps a person follow the Torah laws.

Letters engraved in stone are completely one with the stone…

The word "im" can also be translated as "please". While the father has the mitzvah to educate his children, it is the mother who uses compassion and supplication (please) to keep her children on the right path. Rebbe Michel of Zlotchov had a heavenly revelation that at a particular instant he had the opportunity to not die but to rise to Heaven like Elijah the prophet. Rebbe Michel responded to the offer, saying, "my children are little, and I am still needed to guide them. Better to be buried in the ground at a later time, and to use the moment to be with my children."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the name of this week's Torah reading teaches an important lesson. The word "B'chukotai" comes from the root word "chok", meaning "law" or "statute". This word also means "engraved"; we must learn the Torah as though it was engraved in us. Unlike letters written on paper, where the ink and paper are two separate entities, letters engraved in stone are completely one with the stone. So too, we must totally integrate our Torah learning into our lives, requiring of ourselves that we and the Torah are one reality. This is also the quality of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who made Torah his whole being. On this Shabbat after Lag B'omer, all of us should spend a little extra time studying Torah with intensity and putting into practice what we learned. And may we all have much Jewish pride in our children and children's children.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


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