Missed Birth And Bris – A Zaidy’s Challenge

Pictured At My Grandson Yitzhak's Bris Are The Mohel, My Son Dovi, And His Father In Law. In Rechovot April 19.
Pictured At My Grandson Yitzhak's Bris Are The Mohel, My Son Dovi, And His Father In Law. In Rechovot April 19.


Our new grandson, Yitzhak,was born at Laniado Hospital, Keryat Sanz, Netanya, Israel on Motzei Shabbat April 11, Hol Hamoed Pesach. His Bris took place this past Sunday in Rechovot. Just like the Bris, which I could not attend, I also could not visit our new grandson after his birth.

This morning, at 10am in Israel, I stood with my wife on our balcony listening to the siren blare for a full two minutes to remember the Holocaust, and the 6 million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis. And now I am thankful to G-d that we are blessed with a new addition to Israel’s population to strengthen the Jewish nation.

The Birth And A Holocaust Story From The Hospital’s Founder-

Our grandson was born at Laniado Hospital, which has a rich history-

Laniado Hospital, also known as the Sanz Medical Center,[2] is a voluntary,[3] not-for-profit hospital in Kiryat Sanz, NetanyaIsrael, The hospital is run according to Jewish law and is known as the only hospital in Israel which has never closed due to a strike.[5] It is administered by the Sanz-Klausenburg Hasidic dynasty under the direction of the present Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe, Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Halberstam.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I feel it is important to bring your attention to the following story which comes from the Laniado Hospital’s Web Site-


The  Klausenberg Rebbe (Rabbi Yekutiel Yehudah Halberstam, of righteous memory) is from the Sanz chassidic dynasty, founded Sanz Medical Center–Laniado Hospital in 1976. He had lost his wife, eleven children, and many other family members in the Holocaust. He was left to face the unimaginable suffering of that time alone. Many miracles and remarkable stories are told of the Rebbe’s ordeals during the Holocaust.

“I remember when I was shot in the hand,” the Rebbe once recounted. “I was afraid to go to the Nazi-run clinic, although it had doctors. I knew that the moment I entered that place, I would not come out alive. So what did I do after being shot? Despite my fear of the Nazis, I found a tree, picked a leaf, and held it tightly over the wound to staunch the bleeding. Then I tore off a branch and tied it around the wound to hold the leaf in place. With God’s help, I recovered in three days. At that point, I resolved that if God granted me life and I was healed—for I looked like a walking skeleton, a musselm—and if I left this place and the evil Nazis, then I would build a hospital. It would be founded with doctors and nurses who believed that there is a God in this world. They would know that when they heal a patient, they are doing the greatest mitzvah in the Torah.” 

The Bris

For the first time, this past Sunday, I was prevented from attending my precious grandson’s Bris. Our family had been to all the previous ceremonies, shared in Mazel Tov’s with relatives, neighbors and friends, but this past Sunday was one for the history books. All of that drastically changed.

I actually want to give G-d a heartfelt thank you for all he has done for me and family, despite the difficult situation we all find ourselves in as a result of the Coronavirus.  This unique Pesach we just experienced will be remembered for many years to come.

The Bris of our new Grandson Yitzhak (Isaac) took place in Rechovot, in the apartment where our son Dovi and his wife Devorah live. Devorah’s family made Aliyah from Moscow when she was six months old. Her father was the Sandek (the person holding the baby during the Bris). Dovi was there along with the Mohel (the person performing the Bris). And the only other person allowed to be present  would have been me, but because Rechovot is far away from where we live, and also due to my age, it was forbidden for me to travel and therefore my son Dani took my place.

The reason I am thankful to Hashem is because if I would have been there, the picture you see accompanying this Blog was one of a series of pictures and videos taken by Dani and would not have existed. I would not have been able to take pictures while the Bris was in progress. Rather, I wanted to pay attention and listen carefully as our new Grandson entered the covenant of Avrahom ( Abraham).  And therefore our extended family would not have seen any pictures of the ceremony.

The Bris was on Dovi’s balcony with Devorah and immediate family having to stay in a separate room. And so the previous Blog I wrote regarding being part of a Minyan when davening from our balconies is applicable in this situation. People came to listen to the ceremony from their own balconies, and many others came to listen on the street as well as the courtyards near Dovi’s apartment building.

The ceremony proceeded as normal, the only difference was that everyone who came to “witness” the Bris did not actually see it but heard it. In other words, everyone was able to hear the ceremony, but since the majority of balconies here are not see-thru, it was not possible to see the ceremony from outside the apartment building.

The Name Yitzhak Came As A Total Surprise To Most Of Our Family

Tradition in our family, as is the custom in many others, is for parents not to know if their newborn is a boy or girl, before birth.  So we did not know what Devorah was having until a week ago. And then we began to think of boys names.

Yitzhak has two brothers-

Simcha Zissel is named after

 Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida (Hebrewשמחה זיסל זיו‎; 1824–1898), also known as Simcah Zissel Ziv or the Alter of Kelm (the Elder of Kelm), was one of the foremost students of Yisrael Salanter and one of the early leaders of the Musar movement. He is best known as the founder and director of the Kelm Talmud Torah.

Yosef Shalom is  named after

Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (Hebrewיוסף שלום אלישיב‎‎; 10 April 1910 – 18 July 2012) was a Haredi Rabbi and posek (arbiter of Jewish law) who lived in JerusalemIsrael. Until his death at the age of 102, Rav Elyashiv was the paramount leader of both Israel and the Diaspora Lithuanian-Haredi community, and many Ashkenazi Jews regarded him as the posek ha-dor, the contemporary leading authority on halakha, or Jewish law.[1]

He spent most of his days engaged in Talmudical study, and delivered lectures in Talmud and Shulkhan Arukh at a local synagogue in the Meah Shearim area in Jerusalem where he lived.[2][3] He received supplicants from all over the world, and answered the most complex Halakhic inquiries.[1]

 The Rabbi most family members thought Yitzhak would be named after was Ahron Leib Shteinman ZT”L because of the two previous names that Dovi and Devorah chose. But we were unaware that Rav Shteinman’s full name was Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman and therefore because that is my middle name, the baby would be named Yitzhak, which was Devorah’s grandfather’s name. That was very interesting because Devorah’s father was the Sandek for Yitzhak, his father, while I was the Sandek for Yosef Shalom, where Yosef is my father’s first name.

Rav Shteinman ZT”L was a widely respected Rav, here is a portion of his background-

Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman (Hebrewאהרן יהודה לייב שטינמן‎), also Shteinman or Steinman[2] (November 3, 1914[1] – December 12, 2017[3]), was a Haredi rabbi in Bnei BrakIsrael.[4] Following the death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in 2012, he was widely regarded as the Gadol Hador (Leader of the Generation), the leader of the non-Hasidic Lithuanian Jewish world.[5] He, along with several other rabbis, is credited with reviving and expanding the appeal of European-style yeshivas in Israel

Yosef Shalom And Yitzhak – An Amazing Combination Of Yosef Yitzhak

Now we have an amazing name combination of Dovi’s second and third child. Instead of having Yosef Shalom and Aharon Yehuda Leib; one name from each works out to the name of my father Yosef Leib.  But this new combination is Yosef Yitzhak, who was the sixth Lubavitch Rebbe before the latest Rebbe Menachem Mendel.  Here is a small summary of his background-

Yosef Yitzchak (Joseph Isaac)[1] Schneersohn (Hebrewיוסף יצחק שניאורסאהן; 21 June 1880 – 28 January 1950) was an Orthodox rabbi and the sixth Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad Lubavitch chasidic movement. He is also known as the Frierdiker Rebbe (Yiddish for “Previous Rebbe”), the Rebbe RaYYaTz, or the Rebbe Rayatz (an acronym for Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak). After many years of fighting to keep Orthodox Judaism alive from within the Soviet Union, he was forced to leave; he continued to conduct the struggle from Latvia, and then Poland, and eventually the United States, where he spent the last ten years of his life.

Dovi’s Downstairs Neighbor And The Power Of Shema Yisrael

Dovi told me a fascinating story shortly after the Bris as we spoke on the phone to share Mazel Tovs and Brachas with our family.

Pictured At My Grandson Yitzhak’s Bris Are The Mohel, My Son Dovi, And His Father In Law. In Rechovot April 19.

Dovi has a downstairs neighbor who lives alone, a woman probably past retirement age. Dovi seldom sees her, but does try to see how she is doing from time to time. It is tradition the night before a Bris that children come to sing “Shema Yisrael” to the newborn baby. That turned out to be a miracle.

Because not only did all the neighborhood children start singing Shema, but the adults joined in from their balconies and the streets below. A loud and strong  chorus of Shema Yisrael. That moved this woman to tears and she began crying when she heard it.

About the time of the Bris, she appeared at Dovi’s door with a present for Yitzhak. Dovi and Devorah were so touched, they began talking to her. It seems she is alone, and has no one to help her even buy groceries during this difficult time. So immediately they told her that Simcha Zissel loves doing Mitzvahs for people, and that she should call upon Simcha at any time to do her grocery shopping.

That story also brought me to tears.

What Would Have Happened If Simcha Zissel Was Born Instead Of Yitzhak?

The thought kept on crossing my mind what would have happened if Dovi’s first born Simcha Zissel would have arrived at this time. He is the child I have spoken about before who was born without a properly formed diaphragm and left lung and given a 2% chance of survival. In the current environment it would have been quite a challenge to have given Simcha Zissel the proper care at birth that he received when he was born 9 ½ years ago.

At that time, he needed a special machine to assist in his breathing because his left lung was not able to function properly at birth. And with the current Coronavirus also affecting the lungs, it is questionable if a machine would have been available at the time for Siimcha Zissel. I am confident something would have been done by the doctors and nurses to give Simcha Zissel the best care that was available to help him survive, but it is truly amazing that this did not happen now and I am convinced it’s all part of G-d’s plan.

A Unity Government In Israel And The Kinneret Is Basically Full

As I was writing these last few paragraphs, the newsflash came that  a Unity Government has now been signed.

At the same time, we continued to receive rains during Pesach and Chol Hamoed, which resulted in the Kinneret  basically reaching its maximum capacity. Officials are preparing for the next stage in Kinneret water management – the opening of the Degania floodgates, allowing the overflow from the Kinneret into the Jordan River. The last time that happened was in 1992.

Doesn’t that send all of us a strong message that things are most likely about to change?

Perhaps not tomorrow, but there are definite reports the amount of COVID-19 cases are beginning to taper off in many places, and in response, Israel has begun lifting its restrictions. We are definitely not out of the woods, but we are beginning to see sunnier skies here in Israel and around the world.

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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