Rabbi Elyashiv Junior

Rabbi Elyashiv Junior

Michelle gave birth a few floors up and a few hours after the passing of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l.

So naming her newborn baby boy was pretty much a no-brainer.

At yesterday’s bris, Michelle and her husband Nati named their son Yonatan Elyashiv. Elyashiv after the great Torah scholar who died on the same day and in the same place their son was born. And Yonatan after Nati’s childhood hero, Israeli Army commander Yoni Netanyahu HY”D, who died saving the lives of 102 Jews during the Entebbe raid.

“That’s strange,” I thought. For the umpteenth time this week to hear this unlikely pair mentioned together…

Let me explain…

Everything started when I turned on the radio this past Tuesday morning, and my favorite broadcaster pointed out that when Rabbi Elyashiv passed away at the ripe old age of 102 last week he left behind over 1400 descendants, and by contrast, when Bentzion Netanyahu (Binyamin Netanyahu’s father) passed away a few weeks ago at 102, he left behind only 10 descendants.

So a few hours later, when I sat down to translate the excerpt “The Day the Arabs Stopped Using Birth Control” about lifting the 2-kids-per-secular-family Israeli birth rate, I mentioned this striking Elyashiv vs. Netanyahu statistic in the article’s intro.

And I didn’t think I’d written anything controversial in the least until the following day, when I received this comment: “The recently oft quoted comparison between the number of descendents of Rabbi Elyashiv and Bentzion Netanyahu shows a lack of honor for Bentzion’s son, Yoni Netanyahu HY”D, who was killed while on a mission to save innocent Jews. The point could be made in a different, nonoffensive way.”

Ouch. So I wrote a comment apologizing. I certainly hadn’t intended any disrespect to a true Israeli hero, whom I have actually honored in the past on JewishMOM.com…

And then a few minutes later, I left for the bris…of a baby boy named Yoni Elyashiv.

Which has all gotten me thinking…

For the past few months, Israel has been afire with Us vs. Them energy. I turn on the radio, or open a newspaper, and there are more and more reports about how much the religious Jews hate the secular Jews and how much the secular Jews hate the religious Jews.

And in this raging civil war of words, it’s possible that there’s no greater Us vs. Them in Israeli consciousness than Rav Elyashiv vs. Yoni Netanyahu. The greatest rabbi of the Charedi world. And the revered secular Israeli icon and military hero.

But the truth is, if you scratch the surface, the most important things about these two men they actually shared.

They were both Jews.

And they were both Jews who gave their lives for the Jewish people. One through decades of leadership and nearly unparalleled dedication to Torah learning. And one through giving his own life to save 102 other Jews, dying Al Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying God’s name.

And this, I think, is the message I would like to carry with me.

We are secular Jews and religious Jews and right-wing Jews and left-wing Jews and Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazic Jews and this kind of Jews and that kind of Jews. And sometimes we fight, but deep down we are all sisters and brothers. We are all Jews.

Just like I was reminded this week by an 8-day-old baby boy named after 2 Jewish heroes– Yoni Elyashiv.

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6 comments

  1. Do you know how many decedents the 102 had since they were saved? I would add them to the tally of the Netanyahu family, 10 +102 + all of their decedents born from children born after Entebbe. That makes the comparison a bit more reasonable. It’s comparing apples and oranges, but all good Jews who love their fellow Jew.

    • Thank you, Shirah. The quote “he who has saved one life has saved an entire world” is no more apt than here. All those descendants of those saved in Entebbe are Netanyahu family members. Both the Netanyahu and Elyashiv families are giving us future generations, and that, in the end, is what counts.

  2. Thanks! This was really well written, thought provoking, and touching.

  3. So Beautiful. Really nice thought to to end off the nine days and head towards Tishabaav. , thank you.

  4. has anyone else noticed that the number 102 keeps showing up? any gematria experts?

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