iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

GET UPDATES FROM Rabbi Rachel Kobrin
 

To Our Daughter, On Her 8th Birthday

Posted: 04/24/2012 10:35 am

The following letter is co-authored by Rabbi Rick Brody.

Eight years ago today you blessed us with your entry into this world. After a full day of labor, we got into the car and drove a mile and a half from our home to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. You were born less than two hours later. Amidst the intensity of the contractions during that short car ride, we observed the beauty of the thinnest possible crescent moon shining brightly above us in the sky. Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a new Hebrew month) had just ended -- it was now the very beginning of the second day of the month of Iyar. What we saw on that eventful evening was the first visible sign of the new moon. We knew it heralded an auspicious new chapter in our lives, but it also stirred a very special memory: Abba's grandmother, who's name was Doris, loved the crescent moon -- she thought it was one of nature's greatest beauties. Abba's family had in fact named it a "mommy-moon" in honor of Doris, the mommy of the family.

We were "old-school" and did not know, prior to your birth, if you were a boy or a girl. We had thought, if you were a girl, that we would name you Noa, after Abba's grandfather, Nathaniel. We wanted to remember Abba's grandmother through your middle name, but we were struggling to find a suitable girl's name that would honor Doris. The crescent moon changed that. On that night in April, the crescent moon -- the mommy-moon -- actually had a Jewish name: Tiferet she'b'Tiferet.

Each spring, we Jews have the opportunity to usher progressively more holiness into our lives through the sacred act of counting the Omer. The 49 days between the first day of Passover and the first day of Shavuot provide a perfect square in time -- seven weeks of seven days; each one gets counted as a critical step in reenacting the transformative journey from the Egyptian Exodus to the Revelation at Mt. Sinai. The mystics understood this sefirah -- this period of counting -- as an opportunity to contemplate 49 different combinations of seven fundamental Divine qualities, or sefirot. Each week has one of these divine qualities connected to it, and so does each day of the week. This means that each day is a unique pairing from among these seven sefirot -- the fourth day of the second week, the fifth day of the seventh week, etc. Each pairing suggests a certain way of being in the world. Once each week, the same sefirah appears twice -- the same number day within the same number week. This alignment offers double the power for actualizing that one quality.

Noa Tiferet: You were born on the 17th day of the Omer, the third day of the third week, Tiferet she'b'Tiferet -- the day of beauty within the week of beauty. This mystical beauty is about much more than superficial visual appeal. It is about an elegant synthesis of the two sefirot that precede it, the effusive openness that characterizes chesed (lovingkindness) and the more reserved, structured discipline that characterizes gevurah (strength). We see the merging of these qualities in the crescent moon (neither a full moon nor one that is new and invisible) and we also see them, each and every day, in you -- in your deep sense of kindness and determination.

One of the wonderful features of the Jewish calendar is its lunar consistency, meaning that the 17th day of the Omer, Tiferet she'b'Tiferet, always falls at the first appearance of the thinnest crescent moon after Passover. Each year on your Hebrew birthday, as we count the Omer and look up into the sky, we are greeted by that beautiful crescent shining down on us. And each year, as we give immense thanks for your life, we also remember Doris Sack, a woman who lived to the full age of 93, and taught us to appreciate all of life's beauties, especially the crescent moon.

Noa Tiferet, as we count the Omer on your eighth birthday, may you continue to know that you count, that you are precious, that you are loved. And just as the crescent moon gracefully and gently reflects the illuminating light of the sun toward us on earth -- yielding its own manifestation of Divine beauty -- may you continue to reflect your uniquely beautiful Divine light onto each and every person you touch. Happy Birthday.

For more on the Omer, join the conversation by visiting the Omer liveblog on HuffPost Religion, which features blogs, prayers, art and reflections for all 49 days of spiritual renewal between Passover and Shavuot.

 
FOLLOW RELIGION