05/17/2012 04:53 pm ET Updated Jul 17, 2012

I'll Never Forget Hod of Yesod Again

How did I, the self-titled Rav Papa, remember that today is the Hebrew calendar date of my son's first birthday? I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that it was not by my own memory, but truly of divine intervention. It started last night (the actual beginning of his birthday), when I tried to write an article about Malkhut (the final week of the Omer). It was coming out all wrong. I was connecting King David with Michael Jackson. Both tortured souls, a bridge between the feminine and masculine -- it seemed like a good idea at the time. With every sentence I typed, I felt more and more like a bigger idiot. Thank G-d I had the discretion NOT to publish it.

More importantly, I was so busy trying to anticipate Malkhut that I forgot about Yesod (this week in the Omer) and that it was Hod Sh'B'Yesod.

Fast forward to this morning: I was running a Beit Din (rabbinical court) for a conversion of a former student of mine who was ready to become a member of the tribe. This was an amazing experience in and of itself. Various unforeseen sets of circumstances conspired to bring me to this moment and to convene this court of three rabbis at the West Side Mikveh (ritual bath) in Manhattan. The second rabbi was an established rabbi, while the third rabbi, like me, was a newer rabbi. He was also an old friend who also had a young baby just a few months after Benjy was born. When the third rabbi arrived to the mikveh, the first thing he told me was, "Mazal tov." I assume he meant for the impending conversion, to which I was about to respond with a half baked smirk of confusion. I didn't want to invite a k'ayna hara (the Evil Eye) into the room. Our conversion candidate seemed ready, but you never can be sure, which is why we have these Beit Din ceremonies in the first place. But he wasn't wishing a mazal tov for that. He said, "Isn't today your son's first Hebrew calendar birthday? Wasn't Benjy born on the day of our wedding? Today is our Hebrew wedding anniversary. Hod Sh'B'Yesod."

By nature, I'm a slow-to-react kind of person, but If I could have put to words what I was thinking when I realized he was right, I would have said, "GOT ME THERE!" I should have known this guy has an amazing knack for timing -- he always has since I've known him. So it was, on Hod Sh'B'Yesod, on my son's first Hebrew birthday and on rabbi number three's first wedding anniversary, that we brought this woman into the covenant. Only after the fact we found out that it was also rabbi number two's 30-year anniversary of his ordination from rabbinical school!! Talk about truly celebrating the holiness of time.

So I owe a mazal tov to this woman who just converted, but also a debt of gratitude. For if she hadn't decided to convert today, and invite me to run her Beit Din, I might have missed my son's first Hebrew birthday EVER. That only happens once!

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