Friday, November 18, 2005

Guest Posting From Chabakuk Elisha - The Umbilical Cord

Two weeks ago my wife gave birth to a baby boy. After we brought the baby home from the hospital, he has gotten a great bit of attention from his two year-old sister and other siblings who have bombarded my wife and I with hundreds of questions.

Last night I came home from work and was greeted at the door by my very excited children, jumping up and down, and talking all at once. My wife informed me that the excitement was a result of the baby's belly button! The remaining piece of the umbilical cord had finally come off, and this was certainly a big event for all the children.

My younger children repeatedly asked me to explain why a baby needed an umbilical cord, and why it was no longer important. Indeed, the question why it was only temporarily important is interesting, since it also provides a great lesson in life: We live with certain realities that are very important, but are later told that other things will ultimately carry the most significance after this life. Although we may try to prioritize the spiritual over the physical, it is often quite a challenge - since our daily lives often dictate the opposite.

Looking to the development of a human being makes this idea easier to understand. While a baby's arms and legs develop in the womb, the baby has no real need for those limbs in the womb. The umbilical cord, however, is the most essential body part since it brings nutrients to help the baby develop. Perhaps, if the baby was able, it would try to get rid of those cumbersome arms and legs and ensure that the umbilical cord was safe and functioning. The reasoning behind ridding itself of these appendages would be incredibly short-sighted since the doctor will only cut and discard the umbilical cord when the baby is born. Removing the arms and legs in the womb would deprive the baby the ability to function normally in its post-womb environment.

Similarly, in our current reality, the "world" tells us that the physical is of primary importance and the Divine is a superfluous and superimposed element that is of secondary importance. It tells us that we must devote our efforts to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The truth, however, is otherwise; just as a baby's limbs are essential for his future, so too is the spiritual element of our life on this earth essential for our continued development in the future word.

Now that my son's umbilical cord has fallen off, he has left behind the last vestiges of his former world and G-d has given him the tools he needs to accomplish his tasks in this world. Now, with G-d's help he must take advantage of those tools, and cultivate the tools he will need for the future world.


At November 18, 2005 at 11:22:00 AM EST, Blogger Tamara said...

Mazel tov on the birth of your son!

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" need not contradict a meaningful and spiritual life. After all, a true religious life cannot be fully lived where there is tyranny (think about the plight of Jews in the former Soviet Union); freedom is a precondition of the exercise of religion.

At November 18, 2005 at 12:23:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You!
Indeed you're right. I actually questioned using the phrase in the post - but because it has a ring to it, I went with it.
I am referring to a value system centering on the physical mundane endeavors, and the fulfillment of worldly LL&H . I had hoped that the intent was clearer - thank you for pointing it out, and giving me the opportunity to clarify!

At November 20, 2005 at 1:04:00 PM EST, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Chabakuk ...

I had these rambling thoughts upon reading your post ....

Just as the "pupik" is but a remnant, better a REMINDER, a SIGN of that which once served as the lifeline between mother and unborn child, but which is now mostly unseen ... so too is our relationship with The One Above for which we needn't see a physical representation of HIM to know that HE is indeed here with us, that our tefilos-whether as part of a minyon or said privately at the graveside of a loved one-serve as our on-going dialogue with Him who listens but whom we never see ... except that on occasion, just maybe there is a sign, a hint- as it were- that He is not only listening but manifestly near to us-that we are shown this by signs; perhaps a break in the clouds, a new and original solution to a perplexing question or simply the remnant of the umbilical cord that serves not only as a tangible reminder of the pre-natal lifeline but even beyond ... as a sign of His handiwork. I am ...

Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

At November 20, 2005 at 1:45:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Alan,
I like it!

At November 21, 2005 at 8:43:00 AM EST, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Mazal Tov!

I'll never forget when we learned in EMT class about childbirth, what happens to the baby from a physiological perspective when it's born.

When the newborn baby takes it's first breath, and it's lungs inflate -- the 2 arteries and 1 vein in the cord "automatically" detach from the heart and liver.

Its a miracle this ever works...let alone 99% of the time.

Ma Rabu Ma'asecha Hashem.

At April 18, 2016 at 12:23:00 PM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Hallow Simple Jew. Congratulations and to G-d be the glory!

what is the traditional practice among the Jews regarding where to leave the fallen off umbilical cord? Do you bury that in the soil or what do you do with it traditionally? I am Ngoni from Africa and traditionally we bury the fallen off umbilical cord. The belief is that while the baby was within the mother's womb, the umbilical cord connected the baby to the source of his livelihood. now that the baby is out, burying the umbilical cord (and placenta when it was possible) connects the baby to mother earth for the baby's livelihood for the rest of his/her life.Thanks in advance.


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