Open Letter to Remez Chayim, my first child

Purpose and meaning will not be found in the surface, my son, but by the Remez of Chayim.

Our son was born last thursday at 1 am. Following two days of Mira’s valiantly laboring, in which she demonstrated that great strength comes in small packages, our boy came in to this world quite peacefully.

Now, 8 days later, we bring you in to the covenant and give you your name: Remez Chayim

In the first day of your life, your right eye would open slower than your left eye. And in all your cuteness, you looked like you were winking at us. Remez in modern hebrew means wink, as extension of it’s older meaning: a hint. Remez is a post-biblical hebrew word. In the different levels of studying torah, we begin with the P’shat, or the text itself. Remez is the next layer. In Torah, Remez is the level of allusive implication, it’s what’s stated between the lines. Remez is the meaning that is found through deeper questioning. Words can mean a lot, but even more importantly is how they are used or what is not said. Many great lessons are learned from Torah by exploring the extra words, seemingly missing letters, or irregular character spaces.

You are named in the spirit of your mother’s great Uncle, Ralph McRae. He was an artist, and a deep man, whose earlier pieces of mixed media invite you to come stand to look and think. His later pieces — beautifully detailed paintings of nature and solitary cars on dark roads — seem simple, but draw you in deeper. I never met Ralph, but I’ve picked up some of the hints that he left in this world through his art. We hope that by connecting you to him through the first letter of your name, Remez, that you share his energy, and help us understand the deeper beauty or awful truths that aren’t found in the surface.

The day of your birth happened to be the yarzheit of Chayim Haskel, a dear teacher and guide of your Aunt Sadie. He was a big personality with an over-flowing heart which rained pure love on all those who came near him. In particular, he was man of deep personability. While he would fill his house and shabbos table with many faces, Chayim connected with each individual, compassionately at their level. I met him once and as he drove your mom, aunt, and I to his house for Dinner, he asked me where I was from: “Austin, Texas,” he said, thinking for a second, “You a big fan of the roller girls?” Which was and still is the kindest reply any one has ever given me upon learning I come from Texas. Chayim means life in plural, such as the toast – L’Chayim — to life. We say it in plural and give it to you as a name in plural, because G-d forbid you or anyone ever feels that they’re going through this life alone. 

We’ve named you after and in the spirit of two great men, Remez. And your name fits perfectly. The world you’re born into is constantly updating to a newer beta version, where grand-parents, great-grandparents, and babies have facebook accounts, and big data is the default mode of being. 

Purpose and meaning will not be found in the surface, my son, but by the Remez of Chayim.

Even before we were pregnant, if someone were to read your mother and I deeply enough, looking between the lines to what’s implied — it was you. You are our greatest accomplishment, our deepest joy, our happiest moment, and undying hope. Welcome to the world, son, thank you for making us parents.