A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.
Last month, when I was in Jerusalem, I naturally went to the Kotel, a place I always felt was home, since my paternal ancestors were Kohanim. The Beit Hamikdash and its environs were the “alte heim” for me.
This time, I came as an orphan in mourning, having lost my remaining parent, my mother, after
Pesach. Finding an empty spot by the Wall, I leaned forward and pressed my face against the smooth cool stones and closed my eyes while the sun warmed my back, like a soft blanket. I suddenly sensed my parents nearby, the way a slumbering child, eyes closed and heavy with sleep, senses his parents at the doorway, watching over him, protecting him, loving him. For me, it was like an embrace that comforted me.
The feeling that I had connected with my parents is one that I now experience when I go to the
cemetery. There are so many mitzvot that Hashem has given us, whose reason is not immediately apparent, like not mixing dairy foods with meat, or separating wool from linen in garments. But I now have better understanding of G-d’s commandment to bury our beloved dead, as opposed to cremating the remains – which after all is quick, inexpensive and does not take up land and space that could be used for other purposes.
Whereas adherents of other religions have the option of cremating the remains of their loved ones, or even mandate it, Jews are required to return to the earth those who have passed away and to erect a timely monument that bears witness to their existence. Those who pass by and read the name carved on the stone become aware that a holy neshama (soul) had been sent down by Hashem, had completed the tasks that He had assigned to it, and had finally returned “home.”
And for us who were left behind, the G-d given gift is that burial ensures that we not feel totally cut off from those who were so much part of our earthly lives. For we have a sacred place to visit those whose lives were entwined with ours, and to speak to them - to ask for their help, for a bracha, for comfort.
We humans need to have some sort of a physical manifestation, some piece of solid reality in order to feel connected. Several years ago, a popular movie came out that depicted the fight for physical and emotional survival of the sole survivor of a small plane crash that left him stranded on a deserted island. His extreme loneliness, his overwhelming sense of isolation was relieved when a basketball washed up on shore and using mud and grass, he gave it a face and talked to it. Having something tangible to look at soothed him emotionally.
So too I find that when I am at the cemetery, or the Bais Hachayim – the House of Life as it is called - and see and touch the matzevot that signal my parents’ eternal dwelling place. I feel that I am in a sense “knocking at the door” and I am being welcomed. If I am troubled, or feeling anxious or have news, I can “go” to my parents and share my life’s events with them. I feel linked. No doubt this sense of association is why countless ehrliche Yidden travel
thousands of miles to visit the kevarim of Gedolim – because the physical manifestation of their existence facilitates an emotional one.
Those who have cremated their loved ones and scattered their ashes are truly orphaned and bereft. Such is the sad plight of the generation of Holocaust survivors whose family members were totally physically erased, as if they never existed. When they celebrated milestones like the birth of children, graduations, weddings, the survivors had no place to go to “invite” their loved ones - as was the minhag in many communities. They could only silently invoke
their names. (Baalei simcha would go to the cemetery and invite their relatives to participate and no doubt, many felt the spiritual presence of the beloved family member at the simcha).
How blessed are we that we, through Hashem’s guidance - can always visit “home.”
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Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.
We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.
Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.
Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.
A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.
Dear Dr. Yael:
My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.
The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.
Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.
She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.
Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!
Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.
While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.
A young lady in her early 20’s, “Sarah” was redt to “Shlomie” a boy from her home town who learned in an out-of-town yeshiva. The families know each other well, which in today’s shidduch scene is a big plus – since it was therefore unlikely the kids would “fall in” due to misinformation and misinterpretations.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.
Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.
One can argue that forgetting something on a regular basis is a sign of advancing age and it’s time to for a neurological evaluation, but based on the number of young people who need to replace a lost smart phone (too bad it’s not smart enough to warn its owner that that they have become separated – or is there an app for that too?), I safely can say that losing “stuff” cuts across the generations.
For quite a few days in late December, Toronto was transformed into a breathtaking – literally and figuratively – frigid winter wonderland, where every twig, leaf, car door, and outdoor wire and cable was totally encased in ice. When the sun shone the landscape was blindingly brilliant as if billions of diamonds had been glued to everything the eye could see.
Outside is a winter-white wonderland replete with dazzling trees, wires, and sidewalks seemingly wrapped in glittery silver foil. It’s quite lovely to look at, which is about all I can do since I’m stuck indoors. Icicle-laden tree branches are bent and hunch-backed by the frozen heaviness of their popsicle-like burden, and the voices squawking from the battery-operated transistor radio I am listening to are warning people not to go out since walkways and roads are extremely slippery, and there is real danger from falling trees.
The necessity of speaking up when you “have a hunch” applies even more when it comes to shidduchim. One little girl did just that – she said something – and I was fortunate enough to be in town for the very joyful, lively wedding that resulted from her speaking up.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/visiting-home/2004/02/18/
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