Asher Jacob, over the last few months, so many friends have been telling me not to worry about your arrival.
That the second boy is so much easier. That you don’t have to dote over him as much, worry about him as much, watch him as much. That he just won’t need the level of attention as your first.
I know – believe me I know.
As a long suffering second son myself, I will understand you better than anyone on this earth, Asher. And as you go through life, know that my own middle-child syndrome morphed into independence, grew into a ruthless self-reliance, and pushed me across the world and back to pursue my passions. I wish nothing less for you, my second son, but that was my song. You will write your own song – and I will be here to sing it. I don’t know what your words will be, but I know your song will be a bracha, a song of thanks to G-d who brought you into this world and gave you countless blessings.
A blessing to be born in this family, with this mother whose fierce love, now being forged in sleepless nights and sacrifice, can temper your most violent storm with just a gentle whisper.
A blessing to have this brother who worships you, runs into your room every morning to see you, kisses your feet, and brags about you across this city. By no fault of your own, you have landed on Prince Brody Island, but instead of demanding fealty, it is Brody who treats you like royalty.
A blessing to be born in this village. A village that will be here for your birthdays and babysitting, that will nurture you, teach you, and take you on adventures. The collective love and wisdom in this room is one of your greatest assets, Asher, so lean on them, learn from them, laugh with them, and let them be your lighthouse to manhood.
A blessing to be born in this household, warm with love and rumbling in laughter, day and night.
A blessing to be born in this nation with the privilege of endless potential and promise, where you can be anything, do anything, and achieve anything. With the American dream as your canvas, Asher, hard work will make your wildest dreams take flight, like the Bluesteins of yesterday and around you today.
And a true blessing to be born Jewish. It may not seem like it, son, as you will be raised in Washington where hundreds of thousands rally against you and your religion. They want to scare you out of your legacy, your history, and your sacred connection with G-d. We will never let them.
Like many here, I will never be the same person I was on October 6, before the images of the next day were forever burned into my brain. If there is any hidden blessing in that tragedy, it is that you, Asher Jacob, will never know who I was before. You will only know a father whose Judaism is stronger than ever.
And I will never let anyone in this family ever be scared away from the rich bounty of our birthright.
And finally, Asher Jacob, you are blessed to have a father who makes a promise to you, here and now, as we honor our own covenant with G-d, to remind you every single day of these blessings. I believe, deeper than anything, that your character will evolve from humbleness and recognition of this tremendous fortune you were bestowed. And that gratitude will be your key to open the door to a life where every moment is cherished.
But life may not let me constantly remind you of your countless blessings.
So on this day, the day of your brit milah, so that you may never forget your many, many blessings, we have gifted you with the name Asher, which means “blessed.”
But such blessings carry a responsibility. A responsibility to not just pursue a righteous path yourself, but lead others in your wake. The path may not always be clear, but let your family, your village, and your G-d guide you as you go.
That’s why today we also gift you with the middle name of Jacob, or Yakov, meaning “the one who follows.”
Jacob, another second born son, wrestled with G-d and became the patriarch of the Israelites.
May you wrestle with G-d about your world, your religion, your life, and your path, but never forget how sacred it is to be Jewish.
May the name and meaning of Asher Yaakov remind you of the special bond you and I will always share as second sons.
But may you never ever forget, my blessed boy, that you are our second son, but our first Asher Jacob.