Tuesday, January 23, 2007

olam habah

There's a story, a myth, an old wives' tale that unless you give your child a Hebrew name, you won't be able to find them in olam habah -- the world to come.

But when I asked my rabbi if he could give my daughter a Hebrew name, he explained, very slowly and carefully, that, because she hadn't lived for thirty days (hell, she didn't even live for thirty hours), she didn't truly count as a person under Jewish law and, therefore, wasn't entitled to a name.

And I had a sudden vision of my little girl, waiting patiently in the next world for her mother, not realizing that I would never see her again, because I don't know her name


Lainey-Paney said...

that just makes me so....sad.
So...blank feeling. Alone. Lost. & Cold.

Adrienne said...

There are times when those who would comfort us should put aside certain things. Because surely G*d did not intend that. I won't believe it.

Kami said...

That is just awful. I too can't believe in that. I can't believe in a god who would act that way. Surely, we humans are the ones that misunderstand. I am sorry you heard this.

Anonymous said...

First, I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Secondly, I am a rabbi. The Conservative movement has made a number of decisions that say, according to Jewish law, babies that die before 30 days of age can be given names and even mourned in a full traditional way.

You don't need a rabbi to give your daughter a name - you can do it on your own. Regardless, you will find one another in olam haba - your souls are tied to one another. She came into this world through you, and no one can ever, ever take that away.

thrice said...

This post has bothered me, so I sent it to my favorite Orthodox Rabbi in Israel. Here is his reply:

[i]There are a number of issues here, not least of which is the minimum amount of sensitivity one should expect from a rabbi in answering such a painful question.

Putting aside for the moment the actual issue of names which is more of a mystical nature (though with certain
halachic ramifications when dealing with contracts, Gittin and the like), there is no halachic problem with allowing
a child to be named, even in the event that the custom was not to do so.

In fact, it may well be that one reason the custom was not to name a baby under circumstances where the child

unfortunately did not live long, was out of sensitivity to the parents who might have had more of a sense of loss mourning a person than a baby not yet named.

(This is also the reasoning behind not revealing the sex of the baby when the parents did not know…)

Thus it should be obvious that when sensitivity to the parents' pain demands the opposite that such would not only be allowed, but even encouraged.

Pretty sure there is no halachic qualification to naming a child 9though in the case of a baby boy there are halachic ramifications that revolve more about the bris…)

As for the nature of Olam Haba, I haven't been there and as such am envious of those who have such certainty regarding its nature, but in my perspective, Hashem, who loves us has no reason I can fathom to cause us pain. The Kabbala (and thus Chassidut) suggests that the neshama of a person decides who their parents will be and that children are born to us because our neshamot need to experience their neshamot, for whatever time frame is meant to be.

Not sure, once we move on from this physical world, that our neshamot experience each other in the same way, especially since a neshama is not physical, and, being spiritual, has no limits. Neshamot, beyond this world, discover that we are really one, and the illusion of being 'other' no longer exists….

Lastly, if one neshama needs to 'find' another neshama beyond this world, it is not the name that brings them together, it is their essence….

Lots to think about here, perhaps most of all the obvious need for sensitivity training for rabbis…. Working on that; all the best, and most of all sorry for your friend's pain…."[/i]

I hope this helps, and does not add to your already immense pain.

Lee said...

time for a new religon?