Archive for the 'Emunah' Category

Dear Child to Me: On Emunah and this Blog

I remind each of my children all of the time, ” I love them the most of all…just like their three siblings.” This year as I have been feebly trying to prepare for the High Holidays during Elul. One thing that had helped is that I have found myself singing again and again to different covers of Deveykus‘s Haben Yakir Li. The lyrics are taken from a section of Jeremiah that we read on the second day of Rosh HaShanah. There we read:

Truly, Efraim is a dear child to Me,
A child  in whom I delight!
Whenever I speak of him,
My thoughts would dwell on him still.
That is why My heart yearns for him;
I will receive him back in love
—declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:20

For me it expresses an extraordinary expression of God’s anthropopathic love of Israel. Here is one version with some nice violin:

There is some ambiguity about the text when it says ” Whenever I speak of him“. Is it when I speak to him, about him, or even against him? Rashi explores the meaning of “whenever I speak of him” and comments:

Every time that I speak of him. And the Midrash Leviticus Rabbah (2:3) explains: It is enough My speech (דַּי דִבּוּרִי) with which I endowed him, that I taught him My Torah, for Me to have mercy on him.

Rashi on Jeremiah 31:20

This is an interesting thought. It is as if God recalls learning with Efraim and that reminds God how much God loves him.

This parental love through learning reminded me of a Rashi from Parshat Vayigash. Yosef, Efraim’s father, reveals his identity to his brothers. Finding out that their father is still alive he sends agalot– wagons to bring Yaakov to Egypt. There Rashi comments:

By sending the wagons (agalot), Yosef sent him a sign. What was the (topic) they had studied before he (Yosef) left? The topic of the egla arufa -beheaded heifer (see Shoftim). Thus the text states, “when he saw the agalot which Yosef sent,” and not which Pharoh sent.

Rashi on Bereishit 45:27

There is something deep about parent’s love of a child. Even though he was told that Yosef died years earlier, once he saw these agalot Yaakov just knew that Yosef was alive due to the learning that they shared before Yosef’s abduction. This love gets even deeper when it comes in the context of their learning Torah together. This is a love that never could believe that Yosef is truly dead. This is also a love that wants to allow Efraim’s return regardless of his misdeeds.

I was thinking about this parental love in the context of learning while studying with Emunah in preparation for Bat Mitzah this coming spring. It feels special, just like the learning I do with her three siblings. They are all dear to me.

On another level I was thinking about Emunah when sharing this Torah thought with you through this blog. I started this practice of writing a weekly blog when she was born. Emunah and this blog* recently turned 12.

*For those following along at home this is my 756th blog post.

Our Type of Emunah

21400d45b5e9b7d592f596a53674141414c3441People keep on asking me what we named our daughter. After they hear the name, Emunah, they ask what does that mean. I know the simple answer would be ‘faith’, but that does not exactly articulate our intention. While I am a Rabbi, faith is not something that comes easily to me and not a name that I would necessarily give our daughter. I found this quote by Martin Buber in his book Two Types of Faith that seems to get a little closer.

Buber writes, “This ‘existential’ characteristic of Emunah is not sufficiently expressed in the translation ‘faith’, although the verb often does mean to believe (to believe someone, to believe a thing). It must further be noticed that the conception includes the two aspects of a reciprocity of permanence: the active, ‘fidelity’, and the receptive, ’trust’. If we wish to do justice to the intention of the spirit of the language which is so expressed, then we ought not to understand ’trust’ merely in a psychical sense, as we do not with ’fidelity’. The soul is as fundamentally concerned in the one as in the other, but is decisive for both that the disposition of the soul should become an attitude of life. Both, fidelity and trust, exist in the actual realm of relationship between two persons. Only in the full actuality of such a relationship can one be both loyal and trusting.” (28-29)

While we hope that our daughter Emunah develop a deep relationship with God, we are more interested in her deeds then her creed. We strive to model for Emunah healthy and open relationships with each other, our community, and the world. I hope over time that my faith and our daughter Emunah prove “to both loyal and trusting”.

Faith is not always some things that I can beleive in ,  but I feel that Buber’s ‘faith’ is one that I can strive for and work on. Tell me what you think.

Our Blessing for Emunah

Emunah with Abuela

Emunah with Abuela

In Shemot Rabbah 51:1, Rabbi Tanhuma bar Abba opens by explaining Proverbs 28:20 “ Ish emunot Rav Berachot- A dependable person will abound with blessings” You will find that God always brings blessings by the hand of a person who is dependable. Being steadfast and trustworthy are the means to bringing blessings to humanity.

Adina and I hope that our daughter Emunah should be a trustworthy, steadfast, reliable, committed, devoted, and dependable person and in so doing bring many blessings to her family, community, and the world. Our intension was that she should lift up the soul of her great- grandfather Baruch Boris Frydman.  Baruch desired to live an accomplished life filled with curiosity, culture, and the outdoors. He was ambitious and incredibly loyal to his family and as a new immigrant to Argentina he worked arduously to provide for the needs of his family.  A caring and dependable man, Baruch adored his children.

Tragically Baruch died in the prime of his life and his dreams, ambitions and potential were not fully realized.  Three generations later, we pray that Emunah will live a long and healthy life that is personally meaningful, is filled with the love of her family, and makes a difference in her community and to the world. Our blessing is that Emunah will fulfill her potential while elevating the spirit of her namesake.


Rabbi Tanhuma bar Abba comienza Shemot Rabbah 51:1 explicando el versiculo “Ish emunot Rav Berachot de Proverbios 28:20 – Pleno de bendiciones esta quien es leal. A traves de quienes son constantes, resueltos y confiables es bendecida la humanidad.

Adina y yo esperamos que nuestra hija Emunah sea una persona confiable, constante, determinada, leal y dedicada a su familia, a su comunidad y a la humanidad. Nuestro deseo es que Emunah eleve el alma de su bisabuelo Baruch Boris Frydman. Baruch soño con una vida llena de sorpresas, descubrimientos, cultura y naturaleza. Era ambicioso y extremadamente leal a su familia, y como nuevo inmigrante en Argentina trabajo arduamente para lograr la estabilidad de los sus seres queridos. Era un ser leal y dedicado y amaba a sus hijos.

Baruj murio en la plenitud de su vida y sus sueños, ambiciones y potencial se vieron truncados e interrumpidos antes de tiempo. Tres generaciones mas tarde, rezamos por que Emunah viva una larga vida, llena de salud y de realizaciones personales, que este llena de amor familiar y que sus contribuciones a la comunidad ayuden a crear un mundo mejor. Bendecimos a Emunah para que logre alcanzar su maximo potencial y en el proceso honre el espiritu de su nombre.

And her name is…



With much thought, that you will get to read about in this blog, Adina and I decided to name our daughter Emunah. This is most often translated as “faith”. But I will give myself some time to actually spell out a better explanation/translation.  I imagine it could take some time to explore why faith as we think about it popularly is not what we have in mind. It seems reasonable to give myself until her Bat Mitzvah. As for now, let us just say that she was born out of a deep foundation of trust and commitment between Adina and me and that we love Emunah very much. We hope that she grows into the depth and breadth of what inspired her name, but we are also happy that her brothers have taken to calling their sister Emi. We look forward to celebrating her arrival with a ceremony in the near future.

And on her 2nd Day

Her Second Day

Her Second Day

We will share her name soon enough. I will be taking the boys with me on Shabbat to give her a name. Calling her FO #3 will just not work. We are looking forward to having a larger event to introduce the world to our daugher and our daughter to the world.  We look forward to sharing this Simcha with you soon.

On Her Birthday

Our Daughter's Birthday

Our Daughter's Birthday

September 2nd 2009, on her birthday. Here is a picture of our third child.  She is already giving her mother, big brothers, and me tremendous joy. Mother and daughter are both healthy and coming home for Shabbat. The boys are very excited.

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