Dearest Eliana Dora:
There is a huge cloud over the town where I am. It has been raining for days. I believe that the cloud is caused by my sadness of being here rather than at your side on this, your first week of life. I would have liked to share those first few days of your life, to see the miracle of growth and development as you take the first steps in the journey that is the march of time and the great adventure of your personal experience.
You are so very special, you are a miracle. You name fits you like a glove. You are an answer to prayers, many prayers. You are a scion of a people four thousand years old who have labored and toiled in every conceivable endeavor (and even some that in retrospect are inconceivable) to emerge young and vibrant and innovative in your grandparents, parents, and hopefully in your generation as well.
You are the offspring of great-grandparents, grandparents and parents who treasured learning and spirituality far above physical wealth, people who rejoiced in a good book and a concert. We have all raised children to appreciate the spiritual and intellectual above the physical and temporal. We have all accepted, internalized and fashioned our lives by the teaching of Antoine de Saint Exupery, whose hero, the Little Prince pronounces this profound statement: What is essential is invisible to the eye; it is only with the heart that one sees clearly.
You were born on the last day of the month of Av, which means father. You are a gift from God, Avinu Shebashamayim. Your earthly father, Eric, is such a treasure: a man of intelligence and principle, a hard working and ambitious man, totally committed to his beloved Tahl, and since your birth to you as well. He is diligently completing his education in order better to serve humanity and provide for your mother, for you, and for the siblings that you will surely eventually have.
You were named in the synagogue on the second day of the month of Elul, the last month of the year for us, a time when we begin our return to God through increasing our religious activity. Elul, we are taught, is not a name but an acronym, a manufactured word made up of the initials of a number of words. Elul comes from ani ledodi vedodi li, I am my beloveds - and he is mine! This saying comes from the great love song of the Jewish people for their God, Shir Hashirim - the Song of Songs. However, while it speaks of our relationship to God, it is also reflected in the relations between loving couples. Surely this verse is fitting for your parents, Tahl and Eric. They are a perfect example of two individuals that come to know one another and meld into one unit, the nuclear family, loving companions whose shared concerns always supercede the need of the self.
The reading of the Torah for which I recited the blessings on the day you were named was the portion of Ki Tetze and read in part, When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God has delivered them into your hands, and you have taken them captive, And see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her, that you would have her as your wife; Then you shall bring her home to your house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall take off the garment of her captivity, and shall remain in your house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month; and after that you shall go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. [Deu. 21:10-13] This passage speaks of the facts of life: war, desire, consideration, and respect. It is also a precedent setting lesson in the way Jews were to treat women. It is only one of many lessons Judaism taught so long ago about how one needs to treat women in this world if we are to be worthy of Gods love.
I remember how very happy I was the day your mother was born! I can tell you with complete faith that you shall have the same place in your parents hearts. I could say so much more, but this is neither the time nor the place. I will speak to you again. For now, I shall end with wishes of sunshine and roses, tropical fish and loving cats, adoring relatives and loving parents. You know what, sweet child? My wish has been fulfilled already.