Posts Tagged 'Faith'

Lean on Me

Our daughter Emunah turned one recently and  she is walking up a storm.  I am completely biased, but she is just super cuddly. Recently she has taken to leaning up against me when I am near her. It is amazing to me that she can just throw her weight back and expect that my leg will be there to support her.  She fell once and I thought that would be the end of this, but she is right back at it. This made me reflect on the song Anachnu Ma’aminim- We Are Believers:

Anachnu ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim
ve’ein lanu al mi lehisha’en
ela ela al avinu
avinu shebashamaim 

Yisrael Yisrael
betach b’hashem
ezram umeginam hu


We are believers, children of believers
and we have none (else) to rely on
but but on our father
our father in heaven 

Israel Israel
believed in The Lord
for He is your aid and your protection


“Lehisha’en” is translated as “to rely on”, but it might just as well be translated as ” to lean on”.  I thought of this as my daughter Emunah, who’s name is not to be translated as “Faith”, went back to leaning on my leg. Often in my life claiming faith has been complicated.  In light of this fact I really enjoyed “Grilled Cheesus” a recent episode of Glee. But in so many ways having Emunah in my life makes it easy for me. 

Reward Beyond Reward and Punishment

Reward and PunishmentAs I get ready for the High Holidays, I go back to my yearly struggle with the popular understanding of reward and punishment. As we will diligently read the prayers of U’Nitaneh Tokef, “On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning.” By definition, we cannot know the answers to these questions, so I often ask myself, who cares? And even if I did know, I do not feel that this way of thinking is what motivates me to follow Halacha. And even worse than that, if I really assumed that my perception of reward and punishment was supposed to motivate me, I would need to undertake an unbearable theodicy. How else could I interpret the suffering of innocent children? God forbid God be unjust.

So there I am in me yearly quandary, and my wife tells me that she got a lovely call from Yadid’s teacher. Yadid, our eldest child, just started Kindergarten last week. His teacher wanted to tell us that he is a pleasure and a real Mentsch. Whatever we are doing as parents she wanted us to keep it up. But what are we doing as parents?

So the next day as I was walking Yadid to the bus stop I asked him about his day at school. He reports back to me about his class trip to an orchard to go apple picking for Rosh HaShanah. I tell him how happy I am that he is enjoying his new school and how proud I am to have gotten such a nice call from his teacher. I asked him what he thinks he did to make the teacher want to call us. He recalled that the Kippah of one of his classmates had blown off and he had run to retrieve it. I asked, “Why did you do that?”. Yadid responds, “It’s a Mitzvah”. I push, “Why do you do Mitzvot?” Yadid responds, “Because I get treasures”. Evidently his teacher gives out prizes for good behavior.  Unsure of what would come next; I asked Yadid, “Why do you think Abba does Mitzvot?”

There was a pregnant pause, during which I ponder sharing with my son my seasonal theological crises. And then I look at my five year old son who is just now on his way to school. His heart and mind are even more open than his eyes curious for me to answer my question. “Yadid, you know that you, your brother, and your sister are my treasures, I do Mitzvot so that I can get you in my life”. And with that I caressed his cheek and he gave me a hug.  Was I dishonest to hide from him my issues of reward and punishment? Was saying the “truth” for him or for me? In the end  (or at the least at this point in my life) it was a lie.  I can only hope that one day Yadid will read this blog that he inspired and see a deeper truth. One day he will become my Philosopher King. Parenting is complex, tiring, and often thankless, but a moment when my son knows that he is treasured is its own “reward”.

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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 228 other followers

Archive By Topic

%d bloggers like this: