The few details she had just shared with me made the hands on my arm stand up. I had to know more, as I couldn’t fully grasp the possibility of what I was thinking. I asked the obvious questions: How old was your friend? Where did your friend live? What did she die from? What was her name?
Through her tearful responses and sad words of concern for her friend, I was honored to put her fears to rest. I was blessed to be the conveyer of comfort to her troubled soul, to assure her that I, as the head of the chevra that cared for her friend, could positively state that her friend had a 100 percent kosher taharah.
Hearing this, she literally jumped over the counter and bear-hugged me, crying uncontrollably that my being there – in this shop and on this day – had to be more than sheer coincidence. She said that she is now at peace with her friend’s passing, and feels her soul is now at rest.
It happened that we went that particular Sunday.
It happened to be my aunt’s birthday that day.
It happened that company arrived while we were there.
It happened that the apartment was too small for everyone to remain.
It happened that we decided to leave earlier than scheduled.
It happened that I spontaneously decided to go shopping.
It happened that my husband was willing to stop and wait while I shopped.
It happened that I went into that particular store.
It happened that I saw the computer screen.
It happened that the content on that screen caused me to make conversation.
It happened that I paid attention to her accent.
It happened that I asked her where she was from.
It happened that I asked her why she was sad.
And everything had to happen in the right order.
Doing taharah did not just bring the chevra a sense of awe and sacredness. It brought peace and comfort to the mourner. This goal is exactly what Jewish burial tradition hopes to attain.
We of the chevra do what we do because of our personal responsibility for one another. Thus we always leave the taharah room with a prayer on our lips, as we never expect to receive more than internal gratification. But to actually see the positive difference it made for another is an experience that will continue to bring comfort to that woman and to our chevra for eternity. Baruch Hashem, I was blessed that day to have been the person that brought peace to that woman.