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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chayai Sarah’

Abraham’s Legacy Still without Boundaries in Hebron

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Abraham’s legacy, still alive and well, is the crux of our existence, not only in Hebron, but as a people, in Israel and around the world.

A few years ago, following one of his last visits to Me’arat Hamachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, as Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu entered his car, the other door opened and two people literally pushed their way into the vehicle, one civilian, the other in uniform.

The civilian, a senior employee at the holy site, said, “Rabbi, I’m sorry to do this, but this man, a border police officer, works here very hard and greatly helps the Jewish people. He has a problem. He and his wife have been married many years and have yet to be blessed with children.”

Rabbi Eliyahu looked at the man and responded, “He should continue to help the Jewish people and next year he will be witness to salvation.”

A year later his daughter Miriam was born. The border police officer’s name is Shuchralla Morav.

Much has been written about Hebron’s relationship with security forces, be it police or IDF. As much as we say about our good, positive relationships with them, we are unfortunately generally not believed.

The roots of our national essence, in Hebron, begins with Abraham and Sarah. They were known as people of chesed, that is, overwhelming loving-kindness and generosity. Our sages have taught that we must express the attributes of our Creator: as He is kind, so too we must be kind. The primary examples of kindness are Abraham and Sarah.

Abraham’s compassion was not limited to “his own.” Numerous stories are told of his assistance to strangers, many of whom worshiped idols, the very antithesis of his life and ideology. Yet this did not prevent him from offering them food, drink and a place to sleep.

The present Jewish community of Hebron tries to continue walking in the footsteps of our illustrious Forefathers, learning from their deeds, and acting accordingly. Therefore, when Rabbi Shalom Alkobi, then director of the Machpela authority, realized he had an opportunity to seek a blessing from one of our generation’s most righteous people, he did so, without thinking twice.

And the rabbi’s blessing was received and came to pass.

Morav, as he is called, served at Me’arat Hamachpela for 17 years. Living in the north, several hours from Hebron, he wasn’t able to spend enough time with his wife and young daughter. Recently he was transferred to a position much closer to his home, allowing him to enjoy his blessings.

But, after 17 years of service, we couldn’t allow him to leave without a proper parting. So a few days ago, a large group from Hebron, as well as a few of his former commanders, surprised Morav at his home for a farewell party. All facets of Hebron’s community were represented: Rabbi Hillel Horowitz and Noam Arnon, Baruch Marzel, Rabbi Shalom Alkobi, and others.

The celebration began with a number of speeches recognizing Morav’s contribution to dozens of Hebron events, including mass gatherings of tens of thousands of visitors. Everyone present articulated words of gratitude, which was expressed also in several gifts presented to him: an original painting of Me’arat Hamachpela by Hebron artist Shmuel Mushnik, and a certificate of appreciation, signed by all present as well as Hebron’s mayor, Avraham Ben-Yosef, Hebron’s director-general Uri Karzen, and the director of the regional religious council, Yosef Dayan.

How did Morav relate to his years in Hebron? In his words, “It was an honor… the sanctity of the site was above any and all other considerations.”

Shuchralla Morav is not the first and only officer honored by Hebron’s Jewish community. A long list of police , IDF soldiers and officers and commanders are among those who are tangibly appreciated as a result of their tireless efforts to maintain a safe and secure Hebron, allowing hundreds of thousands of people, of all races and religions, to visit Israel’s first Jewish city and holy sites.

Surely, we do not always see eye to eye, but then again, neither do husband and wife always agree. You learn to agree to disagree. However that doesn’t prevent mutual care, respect and love. So too with the courageous men and women whose presence, hard work and shared esteem lead to positive, fruitful relationships which can last for many years.

Making Peace With The Date of Expiration

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

“And Avraham expired and died at a good age, mature and content and he was gathered to his people.” (English translation of verse 8, chapter 25, Parshat Chayai Sarah in the Book of Genesis.)

My father, Chaim ben Aron Yoseph HaKohen a”h. was niftar 11 years ago on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, parshat Chayai Sarah. Over the years, as his yahrzeit approaches, I like to peruse the parsha and see if I can get a glimmer of an insight that will give me nechama, a subtle suggestion that will make the loss of a loved one a bit less painful.

As Jews we mourn the loss of all life, but our dismay morphs into devastation if the individual who left this world was young in years.

We are overcome with grief over what we perceive as a life unlived; a life unfinished. A life that ended prematurely.

Initially, I felt that my father had had a timely death. He died a week before his 81st birthday. None of his 12 older siblings had even come close to reaching that age. One did not survive infanthood; 11 others were middle-aged mothers and fathers when they were murdered for being Jewish by the sadistic Nazis and their international enablers. My father’s only surviving brother, who had left Poland in the 1930′s before Hitler unleashed his hordes of butchers, died at age 72.

Yet as the years went by I became aware that there were many men and women well into their 80′s and 90′s who were full of vigor and good health – both in body and mind. Many were still working at their professions; others enjoyed traveling, indulged in sports like tennis and jogging. More importantly, they shepped nachas as they fully participated in their descendants’ simchas.

I realized that my father (and mother who died at age 77) weren’t that old after all.

I am also all too aware, as we all are, that every day it seems we hear of babies and toddlers and children and teenagers and bochrim and kallah maidels and young husbands and wives and mothers and fathers whose lives were cut short by disease, accident, violence, etc. The Angel of Death has many excuses.

And as individuals and as a community we are tormented. Why the untimely removal of gitte neshamas from our midst,whose continued existence would have enhanced the lives of so many? Those left behind live lives shattered by daily reminders of a life not lived, as they broken-heartedly think, “My daughter would have so enjoyed her big sister’s wedding” or “Oy, my husband would have been so excited to become a zaidy.” For them it is a constant struggle not to imagine what could have been. What they believe should have been.

Would we all feel better if we believed that there wasn’t supposed to be a “could have been?” That saying, “if only ” is a bit chuzpahdik?

In Parshat Chayai Sarah, in the pasuk quoted above, I found a word that intrigued me – “Vah Yigvah” – which Art scroll translates into “expired.” The pasuk states that Avraham “expired and died.” The question that begs to be asked is why was it necessary to say Avraham expired? Wouldn’t it be enough to just say that he died?

There are no extra or unnecessary words in the Torah – every word has a purpose. Perhaps the concept that a life “expires” was included to bring those who have lost a love one a measure of nechama.

Before an organic product is sent to the supermarket, its wrapper is stamped with an expiration date. This means that from the time of its inception, the product was given a specific “lifespan” – one that its manufacturer, no doubt after much research, determined was right for it. For example, if a bar of cheddar cheese is considered edible for a month, then it is meant to be eaten during that period of time, after which it is to be discarded. The cheese was “created” to “exist” for four weeks – not longer. It is pointless, on the day it expires, to think of how this particular piece of cheese would so enhance the blintzes you were planning on making on Shavuot, six months in the future. This cheese had a limited existence, as decided by its manufacturer who wisely knew when it no longer would serve the purpose it was made for. It was meant to last for a certain amount of time only.

I like to think that when the Torah added the word ” expired” followed by the word “died”, it was teaching us that when someone passes away – whether full of years, like Avraham or sadly, at a young age – that this was their designated time, set from the moment of his/her inception. The Creator, for reasons that are beyond our ability to fathom, put an “expiration date” on all of us. We die when we do because we were meant to at that time – not a minute earlier or a minute later.

There was no designated existence beyond that point in our lives. And that knowledge should be a balm to those who are racked with grief over the milestones and life cycles a deceased child or young person will never reach. He/she was never meant to.

The Torah is saying to the bereaved, “Stop eating yourself up with sorrow and regret and guilt, plagued by tormenting thoughts of all the “living” the niftar missed. The loved one who you mourn DID live a FULL life, for they were niftar exactly when they were supposed to, as determined by Hashem. Maybe their lives were incomplete or unfulfilled in our eyes. But not in the Creator’s eyes. The Ultimate Manufacturer knows best the “shelf-life” of each of his products. He assigns the correct “expiration date.”

We mortals have no clue as to His reasoning, for how He decides an “expiration date.” We can only trust and accept His judgment and put our faith in Him and declare, when we hear of a death that He is the True Judge.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/making-peace-with-the-date-of-expiration-2/2010/10/27/

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