Photo Credit: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90
Rav Kushelevsky holding his son.

I almost couldn’t write this story. Despite coming early for the bris milah of Rav Tzvi Kushelevsky’s (age 88) miracle, firstborn son, I was locked out. Perhaps as a lesson learned from the Meron tragedy, there was a strictly-enforced limit on how many people could enter.

I spotted a bachur on the phone with a friend inside the yeshiva who was trying to let him in. We went downstairs, upstairs, to the kitchen entrance, but everything was locked. Even being a fellow volunteer of the Har Nof civilian patrol, which was securing the area, did not help me. And rightfully so. As the guards repeatedly said, it is for the safety and health of the rosh yeshiva.


Eventually, as some people opted to leave the building and watch the live broadcast outside, they let a group of people in. And what a sight it was. Thousands of people crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, to imbibe the simcha and emunah laden in this historic affirmation of our covenant with Hashem. Not every day is there an opportunity to join a simcha the likes of which may not have happened since the days of Avraham Avinu.

A miraculous bris such as this is bound to have some unique features.

One was the guests. Among the many gedolei Torah who joined the simcha were cancer-stricken Rav Yaakov Hillel and Rav Moshe Shternbuch, head of the Eida Chareidis, who no longer leaves his home except on the rarest of occasions.

Another was the naming. Typically, the one honored with the naming – in this case, Rav Shternbuch – is quietly told the name, or handed a note card with the name on it, and they then announce it. Here, Rav Kushelevsky could not hold back. Rav Shternbuch trailed off after v’yikarei shemo b’Yisrael, waiting for the name, when suddenly the melodious voice of Rav Kushelevsky rose up. With no microphone in front of him – after all, Rav Shternbuch was supposed to announce the name – everyone in the large room, including those barely squeezed in through the back door such as myself, heard the emotional, singsong call of “Eliyahu” ring out. Someone next to me immediately murmured, presumably a former talmid in the know: “Named after his father.”

Though an enormous personal simcha, the Israel-Hamas war was kept at the forefront. After the daily Tehillim was said following davening, a heartfelt recitation of Avinu Malkeinu was added as well. Immediately prior to the bris, the rosh yeshiva requested the 13 attributes of mercy be recited, followed by Acheinu Beis Yisrael. All of this was with the explicit instruction that the auspicious eis ratzon, time of divine favor, of the bris milah be used to daven for national needs, for the safety of all Am Yisrael.

After the bris was finished, Rav Kushelevsky gave an impromptu speech (before the smaller, celebratory seudah) extolling the divine providence/hashgacha pratis and the need to have faith in the divine plan. But more faith-inspiring than his speech then – after all, it’s easy to give such a speech after experiencing a miracle – is the knowledge that he’s been giving this speech all along, even throughout the years when there was no happy ending in sight.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleWhere Am I: Purple Flowers
Next articleLife Chronicles
Rabbi Chaim Goldberg has semicha from RIETS and a graduate degree in child clinical psychology from Hebrew University. Aside from practicing psychology and teaching Torah at various yeshivot/seminaries, he runs Mussar Links, a non-profit dedicated to publishing the Torah writings of Rabbi Hillel Goldberg.