A beautiful children’s book, When I First Held You: A Lullaby from Israel, by Mirik and Eleyor Snir, contains a quote that is, if possible, more beautiful still.
היום בו נולדת
הוא היום בו החליט הקב"ה
שהעולם אינו יכול להתקיים בלעדיך
As translated in the book:
day you were born
is the day God decided
that the world could not exist without you.
There you have it, fused in a single affirmation, a sense of God’s election of each and every human being, the essential role “you” fulfill. What a beautiful thought to impress on one’s child. The quote is attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an attribution I do not doubt. Nonetheless, given that the quote derives from a great Hasid, the above translation without a doubt understates the import of the Hebrew.
Here is the blessing once again, vocalized and retranslated:
הַיּוֹם בּוֹ נוֹלַדְתָּ
הוּא הַיּוֹם בּוֹ הֶחְלִיט הקב"ה
שֶׁהָעוֹלָם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְקַיֵּים בַּלְעֲדֶיךָ
רבי נחמן מברסלב
day on which you were born,
that is the day on which God declared
that the world could not be preserved without you.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
That החליט means “adjudicate, (legally) declare,” not “decide,” is, I think, well-known. I refer the interested reader to the relevant loci cited by Jastrow (the standard dictionary, woefully out of date, of the Talmud and Midrashim).
That התקיים means “continue to exist,” not simply “exist,” and more precisely, in a context like this one, “be preserved,” is also not a controversial claim.
Without you taking your place in the world, heaven and earth would not stay in place. This is what Rabbi Nachman of Breslov affirms. It is an expression of confidence in the election of all things. In my next post, the deep background to this affirmation.