Moishey is our second child. As is customary amongst many new parents, the young mother gets the chance for the first baby to carry a name from her side of the family, the young father names the second child, and so on. However, because our first child was a girl (who was named after a very special relative from my side of the family), I struck a 'deal' with my husband when I was expecting our second baby. Because my father had never had a chance to name any male in the family after his own father who had perished in the Holocaust (certain family dynamics and limitations because of mechutanim sharing that name) we decided that if this baby was going to be a boy, we would name him after my father's father - Moshe HY"D.
After I gave birth and my boy was subsequently diagnosed with Down syndrome, I offered my father that if he wished I would 'save' that special name for a future son who would hopefully be 'perfect'. My father vetoed that suggestion and said that in the z'chus of the name of this holy grandfather, the baby will IY"H do well.
Over the years I have been in contact with hundreds of families who have children with Down syndrome and special needs, and an amazing phenomenon has evolved. A large percentage of the males with special needs are named "Moishe". I used to think that I was imagining it; my husband suggested that I document it. I didn't yet, but I'm certainly convinced that it is real. There are lots of special 'Moishe's' out there.
I can blame it on chance, but I choose not to. There must be something much deeper to this unusual reality.
As I write this, we are studying the parshas hashavua of the Jews' golus and subsequent exodus from Mitzrayim - Egypt. Hashem hand-picked Moshe Rabbeinu to be the designated shepherd who would negotiate with Paroah and ultimately lead the Jews out of Mitzrayim.
Moshe Rabbeinu had a disability, one that impeded his speech. Yet, it was precisely that skill that he needed most to gain Paroah's attention, admiration and cooperation. Isn't it strange that Hashem chose Moshe for this very sensitive and powerful mission?
Without looking through various sforim,without searching numerous meforshim, I have come to my own conclusion.
Hashem chose Moshe, specifically with a disability, to teach following generations that persons with disabilities can be very qualified leaders (certainly mainstream followers!). They can turn the hardest and harshest of hearts around and melt them, in spite of their inability to mete out poetic, articulate, sing-song dialogue. A person is only as disabled as those around him limit him, and a person is as capable as his Creator wills for him to be, despite physical limitations. Hence all the 'special' Moshe's in the world. May their unblemished neshamos help lead us out of this golus and to our ultimate redemption.
This article first appeared in issue #12 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us