Prologue: Only three of its kind exist.
There are only three times in the Torah that we find the reward for the performance of Mitzvos mentioned in the Torah. In all three, the reward mentioned is Arichus Yamim. In two of the instances (by Kibbud Av and honest weights and measures), the Torah adds a context to the promise of Arichus Yamim. For in both instances the concept of Arichus Yamuim on the land is used. In the third instance, Shiluach HaKaan, there is no mention of Al HaAdama. Why?
Rabbeinu Bachaya notes that the system of Shiluach HaKaan is one that inspires Rachamnus around the world. When the mother bird engenders Rachamim from Hashem, he is in a Rachamim mindset and sets out to offer Rachamim to all those seeking it too. The Rachmanus is not individual-specific but rather opens a door for Rachmanus world-wide. Ergo, there is no mention of Al Haadama this time. To do so, would limit the Rachmanus that is brought about through Shiluach HaKaan.
This, says Rabbeinu Bachaya, is why the Midrash cites a segulah of fertility for he who performs Shiluach HaKaan. Not only does the Torah tell us “Shaleiach Tishalach Es HaEm V”Es HaBanim Tikach Lach – send the mother away and take (or acquire) children for yourself,” the Torah is recognizing the Rachmanus engendered in the world through this Mitzva and those seeking children are among those who are actively seeking that Rachmanus.
But why is this a source of Arichus Yamim? The Chasam Sofer (P. Ki Savo) noted that while there is a limit to the time one has in this world to engage in the study of Torah and Mitzvos. Once that time is up, so is he. However, time spent in Chinuch HaBanim is not included in this account. By engaging in Shiluach HaKaan, one is zocheh to children. Taking that step to raise them B’chinuch Tahor guarantees Arichus Yamim.
******* Naming after 9/11*******
One of the most tragic events of the 21st century was the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. On that fateful day, worlds turned upside down. Indeed, much has been written about the heroic efforts of victims, of emergency responders and of neighbors who dealt with the tragedy firsthand. Another, more local area concerned the Battei Din (and most locally the Beth Din of America) which worked overtime in order to resolve all the different Shailos of Agunah that resulted as a result of the tragedy. With Hodaah to Hashem, the Beth Din was able to free every single Agunah case it faced, each time utilizing Halachic process and painstaking tracking of fact in order to ascertain death where it would otherwise not be able to be conclusive. Clearly, the resolutions of these cases often took some time.
The Rema (Even HaEzer 17:5) notes that one may not eulogize or mourn for someone who passed in these circumstances until it is ascertained that the individual has indeed passed and his wife freed of Agunah issues. There is fear that not to do so, might mistakenly allow wives to remarry, permitting married women to engage in remarriage incorrectly.
The question arises, what happens if prior to resolution of the Agunah issue, a woman would have a child. Could that child be named after the presumed decease4d? Or perhaps do we assume that this too, would be included in the Gezaira designed to protect women from erring?
In the HaGahos Beis Lechem Yehuda (Y.D. 376) and Kerem Shlomo (Even HaEzer, 17:17) the Poskim note that there should be no difficulty. After all, naming after someone is not recognized as part of the mourning process. Accordingly, it should be permissible. The author of the Shut Dudai HaSadeh (28) disagrees. He is afraid that one might come to allow a remarriage without a Heter Agunah by assuming that since someone named for the missing person exists, he must indeed be dead.
What becomes interesting is the approach of the dudai HaSadeh in his additions. For over there, he notes that if the newborn is the son of the deceased, he thinks that one could be lenient for it is a big Zechus and a Tikkun to name a child after a departed parent. Thus, people will assume that a leniency was used and will use more scrutiny prior to allowing remarriage for the mother. However, if the child born is not a son of the departed but rather a different relative, he would be strict and not allow the renaming prior to conclusive evidence that the departed has indeed passed away.
Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Neiman, Chief Rabbi of the Belz community in Montreal, argued in favor of naming after the individual for a different reason. After all, he notes, the Talmud (Chullin 47b) notes that children would often be named after an individual who did a community a favor (Nassan HaBavli for instance), eventhough the person was still alive. Even the Sefaradim of today often name children after the living grandparents. Accordingly, he sees no reason why one could not name a child born into a family of 9/11 victims with the name of the victim.
HaGaon Rav Gavriel Zinner (Ohr Yisroel, Nissan 5762) notes that in this case too, where no victims stepped forward and the holdup of Heter Agunah is merely one of technicality, that one could name a loved one in memory of a victim even prior to achieving complete Heter Agunah.
May HaKadosh Baruch Hu protect the Neshamos of the Kedoshim martyred on that fateful day and save us from these Shailos in the future.