Moshe Amihai is named after two grandfathers who shared the same first Hebrew name Moshe. In no particular order:
My mother’s father, Moshe Fischel ben Eliyahu, Philip Gellis
Stacy’s mother’s father, Moshe Aharon, Arthur Kirschner
And we like the name Amihai, which means “My Nation Lives”, but more on that later.
Stacy’s grandfather Arthur died while she was still a child, so her memories of him are the memories of a child. She remembers watching him shave with a shaving brush, learning to paint together, and learning her multiplication tables with him. The time he spent with her demonstrated his love and patience, as well as the value he placed on learning. Stacy remembers him as someone who was genuinely fun to be around. We hope that our son shares this patience, will value learning, and will continue to be someone who is fun to be around.
My grandfather was a talmid hakhamim – a student of the Torah scholars and a scientist. He was involved in his shul, he gave regular Torah lectures, and taught high school chemistry. More importantly, he was a huge mensch. He was the kind of person who would eagerly give his left leg if it meant helping someone else. While our Moshe need not be a scientist – really, it’s not actually required – we sincerely hope that he will share the love of Torah and the menschlechkeit of my grandfather.
At the end of this week’s parsha, the biblical Moshe is a dejected and broken man. He has worked so hard to get the Jewish people to this point. Not only is he not able to enter the Land of Israel, but he also knows that after his death the Jewish people will cross into the Land, and they will completely blow it. God tells him about the terrible times that face His nation in the future.
Our choice of the name Amihai – “my nation lives” – shows our hope that most, maybe all of these ra’ot rabot ve’tzarot – many evils and troubles – are behind us, and no longer will God continue to hide his face from us. We hope that our Moshe will see a time that the biblical Moshe could only see in a vision. A time where, as the biblical Moshe puts it at the end of next week’s parsha, “v’chiper admato amo” – God will wipe away his nations tears,” a time when our nation will truly live and thrive.
The months of Elul and Tishrei have been very hard for my family. My Bubby (my mother’s mother), Zeida (one of the Moshes who our son is named after), Grandpa (my dad’s father) and most recently my cousin Avi all died in these few weeks. It is now Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. It is a time when our prayers are more closely examined, and when God is “potei’ach sha’ar ledofekei betshuva,” He throws open the gates of teshuva to those who merely timidly knock at them.
At the brit we all said the short prayer, “k’sheim shenichnas lebrit, kein yekaneis leTorah, chuppah ul’maasim tovim”. “Just as he entered the covenant of the Jewish people, he should enter the world of Torah, the marriage canopy and good deeds.” Now, when we say this, I assume we don’t mean kicking and screaming. Rather, we mean healthy, free of sin, and surrounded by loving family. We hope that Moshe Amihai will grow and be healthy, and that our extended families, and the Jewish people, will only know smachot from here on.