Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
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.”
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Everyone is always looking for cute yet simple and inexpensive ideas to enhance their table at special occasions. Here are some attractive ways to create that festive look. Whether you use china or plastic, your guests will surely be delighted with your charming setup.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chavrusa working with you, guiding and helping you in your work environment?
What made an M.I.T. scholarship student, taking time off from his doctorate in medicine, to backpack, and then decide to backtrack, chuck it all… and get a haircut? Perhaps it is easier to understand a Harvard law student becoming enamored with the logic of Gemara and settling down to struggle with the intellectual challenges of Aramaic acrobatics.
JetBlue flew an empty aircraft from Boston to JFK to assist us. The care and concern of the flight attendants was amazing. They were astounded by our group, so much so that at the end of the flight, the captain related for all to hear that he was truly impressed by the care that the HASC counselors provided for the special-needs campers – all of whom have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. We did our best to demonstrate a true kiddush Hashem.
Q: What does twice exceptional or 2e mean?
The battle over partnership minyans is just the latest scuffle in the war over women’s roles in the Orthodox community.
Last month’s column outlined some efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century to establish Jewish agricultural colonies in America. In only one case was a colony actually established.
According to Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar, “Gifts for the poor [matanot l’evyonim] deserve more attention than the seudah and mishloach manot because there is no greater, richer happiness than bringing joy to the hearts of needy people, orphans, widows and proselytes.”
Having everyone home on a snow day can be a lot of fun – the first few times it happens. Once snow day number six hits, perhaps not so much and the real creativity has to come out.
Imich was born in 1903 in Poland, where he later earned his Ph.D. in 1927, despite the best efforts of anti-Semitic professors to sabotage his thesis
Never sacrifice the people who matter for anything of lesser importance…
Hannah believed that one must learn about the evils of the past so that they aren’t repeated.
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.
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.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
But even though their medical situations were similar, how they mentally dealt with their new status quo was often as different as night and day.
How confusing it was growing up with conflicting messages. On the one hand, we were told, even admonished, to eat everything on our generously piled up plates (it was a sin to waste food), yet we were made to feel like we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.
While in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school. What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed… From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters – twins – and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/visiting-home/2004/02/18/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online:
No related posts.