Photo Credit: Yeshivat HaKotel

Last Thursday, hundreds of people attended the bittersweet brit Milah at Yeshivat Hakotel of a baby born to Aviyah Luber and her husband Staff Sergeant Yehonatan Luber, z”l, who was killed in Gaza two months ago. Three especially powerful moments stood out to me.

The first was when Rav Dovid Dudkevitch, the rav of Yitzhar, prayed that Hashem should sustain the child “for his mother.” Though the standard language of this tefillah is that Hashem should sustain the child “for his father and mother.” Sadly, only the baby’s mother was physically present at the brit.


Yehonatan was not the only family member unable to attend. Two of Yehonatan’s cousins, Hillel and Yagil Yaniv, z”l, were also absent, as they were murdered a year ago in Chawarah.

Rav Dudkevitch continued the tefillah, “May the father be happy with his descendant.” Though Yehonatan, z”l, was not at the brit in body, we know he was there celebrating in spirit.

To strengthen that sense, the family placed a life-size banner of Yehonatan that stood behind the stage. The Yaniv brothers were also there in spirit; the pillow used for the brit was dedicated to their memory.

The most powerful moment was hearing the baby’s name: Amatzyah. The word “amatz” has two meanings. In Tanach, it means “strength” and “courage.” Adding Hashem’s name (Kah) to the word implies that Hashem will give the baby strength.

The second meaning of “amatz” is “to adopt.” This second meaning is especially appropriate to Amatzyah Luber. As his biological father gave his life on behalf of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael and will thus not be able to raise him together with Aviyah, we are confident that Hashem will “adopt” Amatzyah and help Aviyah raise him in a way that will make both his parents proud. (See Tehilim 68:6 for a source for this idea. The Vilna Gaon explained Shemot Rabbah 29:5 this way (in his words to the Ger Tzedek before his martyrdom).

It is not just Hashem who will assist Aviyah in caring for Amatzyah. Yeshivat Hakotel students and hundreds of others attended the brit as representatives of Jews around Israel and the world. We showed that we all stand with and for the Luber family. They have all of us to rely upon.

Tens of spouses and parents have sacrificed their lives defending our people and our land. They have left behind spouses and hundreds of children, many of whom (like Amatzyah) are not old enough to have gotten to know the parent they lost. They will need support and sympathy. As I looked around the room, where there was not a dry eye to be seen, I knew that Am Yisrael would be there for them. And since we will be there for one another, Hashem will surely “adopt” and be there for them as well.

Everyone at the brit was crying. They were tears of sadness mixed with tears of celebration. We cried over the fact that Yehonatan was not there but also celebrated Aviyah and his family’s resolve to continue raising their children with the timeless traditions of the Jewish people – “to commit their child to Avraham Avinu’s covenant.”

The Jewish people have lived through many challenging times. We have been attacked, and our traditions have been outlawed. For thousands of years, Jews have sacrificed their lives for the Jewish people, for the land of Israel, and on behalf of brit milah and other mitzvot.

Our ancestors insisted on performing brit milah despite Greek decrees, during the Inquisition, in concentration camps, and under Communist rule. This is why we continue doing so today.

We are once again under attack and losing many loved ones, but, baruch Hashem, we now live in the State of Israel in Eretz Yisrael. We are free to live as Jews and perform brit milah for our children, and we defend ourselves in order to protect that reality. We cry over the price we pay for this zechut and for the zechut itself.

May Hashem appreciate the commitment of Yehonatan Luber, z”l, Hillel and Yagil Yaniv, z”l, and so many others to His people, His land, and His Torah. May He adopt and care for Amatzyah and Aviyah, all the spouses and orphans, all the hostages and soldiers, and the entire Jewish people in Israel and around the world.

May our care for one another merit His care for us. May this allow us to celebrate future britot and smachot with all family members physically present as a complete celebration of our history, present, and future.

“And I said to you, ‘In your blood, live!…” (Yechezkel 16:6; this pasuk is said at a brit.)

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Rav Reuven Taragin is the Dean of Overseas Students at Yeshivat Hakotel and Educational Director of World Mizrachi - RZA. He lives with his wife Shani and their six children in Alon Shvut, Israel.