ויקרא שמה בישראל ליטל גילה לוי
The birth of our beautiful Lital Gila, between the 50th year of Yom Yerushalayim and the revelation of Shavout, has given us the opportunity to bring the essence of some of these ideas into a blessing for our daughter every time her name is uttered. Here is why and then an extra thought of many we had if you want to start going a bit deeper.
The Talmud (Taanit 4a) recounts improper questions that were responded to with generosity, citing the example of the Jewish people asking God’s relationship with them to be likened to rain. God responds that rain is actually not always desirable (for example in summer) and says, ‘I shall be like dew to Israel’ (Hosea 14:6) which is always desirable. One page earlier, the Talmud (Taanit 3a) cites dew as something that is never withheld, meaning that, it is always there to sustain the world. Here the dual strength of dew lies in its consistency and constancy, every single morning it is there, rain, hail or shine and every single morning it is a blessing, no matter what the weather is like outside. This is the combination our daughter should be blessed with.
Our Lital Gila was born on the eve of Shavout, one of the most transformative nights that the universe has ever known. So powerful was God’s delivery of the Torah that the Talmud (Shabbat 88b) discusses the souls of the people departing from their body. To bring them back to life following the magnitude of the moment, ‘[God] brought down the dew with which He will resurrect the dead in the future.’ Dew serves as the source of the rebirth of man (not just the birth of vegetation), the ultimate expression of redemption and a brighter future. Lital means my dew and while she certainly provides these unique qualities of dew to us, anyone that ever pronounces her name, says that the dew is theirs as well, implying her ability, like Torah, to have a transformative affect on everyone she comes into contact with.
This blessing is encapsulated by Jerusalem, as she was born within a week of the auspicious Jubilee since its reunification. Tradition teaches that there are seventy names for Jerusalem, one of which is Gila (Isaiah 65:18). In addition to meaning joy, which we wish for our child, Gila comes from the root gal and represents hitgalut Hashem, meaning the revelation of God. God was most revealed geographically in Jerusalem and chronologically on Shavout, hence the joy of this revelation in our daughter. The Torah was destined for Israel, but given outside of Israel, just like birth and destiny of this beautiful girl. Before Ruth converted to Judaism, her name was Gilit, deriving from the same root word, because her inner joy allowed her to grow and brought her toward revelation. Liat Gila was born the day before we read the Book of Ruth and the Jewish people converted en masse in receiving the Torah, acknowledging the importance of the step before. While she brings outer joy to all those around her as we experienced when she was born, it is derived from a very deep inner source and should do so all her life.
The Kabbala talks about dew as the ultimate symbol of ‘hidden blessing’, one of the most spiritual of all physical phenomena that cannot be stored, yet sustains the world. Our world would not exist without this beautiful blessing of joy and we only pray that she is able to live up to her namesake, continuing to bring blessing and joy to the world around her, creating birth, rebirth and drawing strength from an unlimited joyful inner source!
So why did the Jewish people ask for rain and not dew as per the first question above? One page earlier, the Talmud (Taanit 2a) talks about three keys that God handles Himself and does not give to an agent: rain, childbirth and revival of the dead. This strengthens the question as it highlights rain as connected to birth and rebirth.
There are two ways redemption can happen – one is referred to in Kabbalah as an itareruta dil’ela (awakening from above), more similar to rain in its power but undependability and the other is an itareruta dil’tata (awakening from below), like dew, in its presence and dependability. Lital Gila was born into the former, Renana’s waters broke and she rained down before we could even make it into the hospital. It was a sudden ‘awakening from above’ which we are so blessed to have received and like the gift of the Torah on Shavout, which was her first day, it shook us to our very core! However, while she was born into the former, she was born from the latter. She wasn’t born on Shavout, she was born on the eve of Shavout, at the end of a beautiful process of pregnancy, in the quiet of the night, on the final evening we count the Omer, representing each day growing one step at a time. The Gila, joy and revelation of Yom Yerushalayim 50 years prior, was also an awakening from below – God presented the opportunity for the State of Israel to reunify Jerusalem with decisive action and human initiative.
While she should always be inspired from above through encounters like Shavout, like dew, we hope she is able to awaken from below, from the grassroots with her friends, family and the world around her, ensuring relationships that are more meaningful and sustainable, infused with Gila in all she does, the joy of Jerusalem and revelation of God.