Jul 31, 2007

Legacy and Family: A Hadran for Harry Potter

[note: this piece is deeply inspired by J.K. Rowling's final installment of the Harry Potter series. There will be no 'spoilers', but the emotionality of completing the book just now compels its own 'Hadran', its own traditional commitment to return and relearn its lessons.]

Legacy and Family: A Hadran for Harry Potter
© 2007 Rabbi Menachem Creditor

When my wife and I chose the names of our three precious children, we were committed to naming them after family members we had loved and lost. It struck me immediately, when our daughter Raya Meital was named only a few days ago, that the pantheon of my family was whole again. My Grandma z"l, my Sabbah z"l, and my great-uncle z"l were alive again. There are simply no words for the burn in my heart birthed by their names. Naomi Shemer wrote in Yerushalayim Shel Zahav that saying Jerusalem's name is like experiencing "the kiss of a Seraph." A Seraph is a fiery angel. Shemer was so right.

I'm not sure what method for writing works here, and perhaps sharing this emotion so publicly is too much. But my family is alive. My family surrounds me. It's not just my eldest daughter's laugh, which reminds me so much of my grandmother. Or my son's eyes, which bring me right back to my Sabbah. Or the juxtaposition of my new daughter's already intense glances that make me stare again at her namesake's art proudly displayed in my home and office. It is the deep knowledge - even deeper than faith - that their spirits are present, alive, learning, and growing within my family again.

I am blessed. So incredibly blessed. Life is so full, so worth living, so worth sharing.

The traditional phrase "HaMeivin Yaveen / If you know, you know" has always struck me as condescending. So lets transfigure it: May we all come to understand the power of knowing that those we've loved and lost are never truly gone. May we speak their names with smiles, with hearts overbrimming , and with gratitude.

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