Saturday, March 25, 2006

The (Spring Break) Shabbat Report: Meet Yuval Lavi (the Bochner's baby)

Spring break started this past Thursday at UCSC. So while many students were already in far-flung corners of the earth, a few of us stayed in town, and some of us even got a bris-milah (read on). Since the official campus orgs were also on their much-needed and well-deserved spring break, the Bochur Pad stepped up to host Friday night dinner.

For people that complain about services that are boring and uninspiring, they should have been at the BP Friday night. Led by fourth-year student Yonah Feinstein, I think our davening rocked the heavens and the earth. Afterwards, we partook of a complete four-course, home-cooked, mostly-organic, bochur-style dinner, including homemade hummus and babaganoush, organic-chicken matzo-ball soup, baked rosemary garlic chicken, and pumpkin pie. And plenty of l'chaims.

Saturday, as Rabbi Friedman was also out of town, Rabbi Chanan Feld of the Beit Midrash in Berkeley chazzaned at Chabad by the Sea (he was in town as the mohel for the Bochners). He gave an excellent d'var Torah. I missed part of it because I was still davening, but I caught a few points. One, he told a parable about a guy who didn't grow up observant. He starts coming to the shul on Shabbos, and argues with the rabbi a lot about Torah and halacha and everything. Eventually, over a number of years, the guy becomes more and more observant until he's all shomer mitzvos and a very knowledgeable Jew. So the rabbi asks him, "What was it that I said that changed your mind?" The guy replies, "'Said'? It wasn't anything you said. I just used to come for the cholent." lol.

But Rabbi Feld also spoke about the beauty of the mitzvah of brit-milah, and gave a few analogies. He said he speaks to different groups of Jews about bris, and sometimes people challenge him and just yell out "Rabbi, it's mutilation!" So first he explained it's a subjective matter. What to one person is mutilation, to another person is a beautification.

For example, he gave over this analogy: For the holiday of Sukkot, you can't use an etrog that has black spots on it. You're supposed to use a "pri etz hadar" ("fruit from a beautiful tree" or "most majestic fruit"), so an etrog with black spots won't cut it. So the Lubavitcher Rebbe used to start out Sukkot with a very beautiful etrog. But many, many people would come to bench (bless) on his etrog, i.e. they would hold his etrog and say the blessings on it. So after so many people held it, the etrog that started out as beautiful and unblemished developed black spots. So is it considered not-kosher at that point? No. In fact, in that case, the black spots are considered a beautification because of the way they were developed. The same with the brit-milah. It's considered a beautification of the body because of the mitzvah involved.

And he connected all this to the parsha too. So last week's parsha talked mostly about the making of the utensils and stuff in the Mishkan. The fabrics were very colorful and beautiful. And while not everyone agreed on which aspect of the utensils and the Mishkan was beautiful, they all agreed that it was very beautiful. Because when Betzalel designed everything, he was divinely inspired, and there was an eternal quality to everything he made, so that it was actually physically beautiful to everyone. Even non-Jews were attracted to the beauty of the Beis HaMikdash.

So at 4pm, me and Alex arrived at the Bochner's house for the bris. We literally got there about two minutes before it started. It was the first bris I have ever attended.

I almost broke down in tears of emotion. It was one of the most beautiful Jewish experiences I've had in quite a while, maybe ever. To walk into a room filled with Jewish community members from the entire community, Reform, Renewal, Chassidic, Conservative, Neo-Chassidic, and then to see this tiny baby being ushered into his 3,000+ year old heritage, his pact with G-d, was awesome. Howie was the sandek and Rabbi Feld was the mohel. So the baby was named Yuval Lavi, which translates directly into "Stream Lion." Shalom read the following pasuk from Jeremiah 17:8 relating to the name Yuval (stream): "For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out its roots by the stream, and shall not see when heat cometh, but its foliage shall be luxuriant; and shall not be anxious in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." Shalom also read a letter that he wrote to Yuval before he was supposed to be born. It was all very emotional and beautiful.

Well, after the bris we were treated to a lavish seudas mitzvah/Third Meal, during which many a "Mazal tov's" and "L'chaim's" were said. Afterwards we said the special bris-version Birkat HaMazon. Then we had a spirited song sesh that brought back memories of my Kol Tefillah days. Then we davened ma'ariv and had havdallah.

Well, I've said it before and this was just more proof to me. We may be a small Jewish community, but we're a mighty community. And when we come together, it's so beautiful. Gut voch (shavua tov)! And Rosh Chodesh is this week! And Pesach is coming up! Too much excitement!


Blogger netmessiah said...

What a gorgeous baby boy, I wish the Bochners much nachas (and patience). Its fabulous to see our people grow from generation to generation.

Sun Mar 26, 11:42:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Sounds like a wonderful shabbos!

May Yuval Lavi be a blessing to k'lal Yisroel, and may his entering the covenant help speed us towards the coming of Moshiach!

Mon Mar 27, 01:36:00 PM 2006  

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