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Sunday, October 1, 2023 - 16 Tishrei 5784
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A Distinguished Name
Ilan and Galit Shavit were an Israeli couple who moved to the U.S. hoping for a better future. They settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they rented an apartment, not realizing that it was next door to a synagogue. Not that they had anything against it; they just had never given much thought to practicing Judaism. They had no idea where this "accidental" proximity would lead...
The name of the synagogue was Rashbi, after Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and was led by Rabbi Daniel Shahino, one of the Rebbe's emissaries to Florida.
Not long after their move, Ilan and Galit decided that it was time to check out the synagogue. They were already next door; why not try it out? At first they joined for prayer services; then they began to attend lectures and various programs offered by the congregation. Ilan and Galit slowly became an integral part of the community, to the great surprise of their acquaintances back in Israel, and even to themselves.
With time, their connection to the synagogue grew. They decided to host a Judaism class in their home, and it soon became a regular event. Ilan and Galit felt their lives being transformed, from typical secular Israelis to traditional Jews.
After a long period of increasing involvement in Judaism, Ilan and Galit approached Rabbi Shahino for a serious talk. They shared with him their chief concern: they had been married for a number of years and still had no children. They weren’t sure if they were ready to have children, because their financial situation was not yet stable. They wanted to ask the Rebbe for a blessing for livelihood, and then for children.
Rabbi Shahino explained that they were welcome to ask for a blessing for livelihood at any time, but that the decision to expand their family should not be connected to the question of livelihood. Having children is a great blessing, which one should not prevent or delay because of financial concerns.
Ilan and Galit understood his point, but still wanted to ask the Rebbe for a blessing. They composed a letter and inserted it at random into a volume of Igrot Kodesh – the Rebbe's collected published letters. It has become a custom of chassidim to insert their requests to the Rebbe in this way and read the answer printed on the page. Generally, that letter refers in some way to the content of their request.
On the page they opened, the Shavits found blessings for success, and they left feeling strengthened and encouraged. Nine months passed, and the Rashbi Congregation celebrated the birth of the Shavit family's firstborn son.
Before the Brit Milah (circumcision ceremony) , Ilan and Galit once again wanted to involve the Rebbe in their decision – of what to name the child. Rabbi Shahino explained to them the Rebbe's view on this matter, that parents have a modicum of prophecy when choosing a name for their child, and no one else should interfere. However, the parents insisted. They were considering three names, and wanted the Rebbe to decide.
Rabbi Shahino acquiesced and helped the couple insert their letter into a volume of Igrot Kodesh – without them showing him which names they were considering. They inserted their letter into Volume 4, between pages 390-391. Rabbi Shahino opened the volume and began to read:
"It is the custom of the Rebbes of Chabad to recite at a bar mitzvah a Chassidic discourse on the verse Naaseh Adam – ‘Let us make man.’ Out of the four descriptors referring to mankind – Adam, Ish, Gever and Enosh – Adam is considered the most distinguished. The bar mitzvah boy should know that he must begin to work on himself immediately to be worthy of this name, and in Heaven he will be assisted to achieve this goal."
Upon hearing this letter, Galit buried her face in her hands and wept. "Rabbi Shahino," she said in a trembling voice, "you can ask Ilan and he will tell you that since my childhood I dreamed of having a son and naming him Adam. I have always loved that name. However, when I told my family of this, they said that the name Adam has a negative connotation. Therefore, I considered other names, but didn't really connect with any of them.
"When we wrote our letter, I did not even include Adam among the names we were considering. But here the Rebbe writes that it is an esteemed, distinguished name!"
During the brit, when the Rabbi announced, “And his name in Israel shall be called— ” Ilan called out, "Adam Menachem." Afterwards he explained that he named his son Adam, after the first human king of the universe, and Menachem, one of the names of Moshiach, the last king, who will reveal himself with the final Redemption.


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