Photo Credit:

Who is ever prepared for a call like the one that pierced our hearts at the conclusion of the first days of Pesach? Even David HaMelech, notwithstanding his clout with his Maker, didn’t get too far when he pleaded to know when his life on earth would come to an end. Declared Hashem: No man shall ever know his time of death.

The petirah of a loved one never fails to shock. Even the loss of an aged parent is not easily internalized. When a shiva visitor once inquired about my father’s age at the end of his life, as if to insinuate we ought not be too distressed if he had lived a relatively long one, I held back from snapping, “Is a child’s pain at losing a parent contingent upon the parent’s age?”


But this was different.

This is not the way it’s supposed to be…

The order of the world is for children to inherit their parents’ and grandparents’ legacy.

How I adored my first grandchild! Sure, he’d made me a grandmother, and there’s no denying his charm could melt the most stalwart of hearts, but truly there was more. He was a unique neshamah, caring and sensitive to the core.

His closest kin knew it, his mom probably better than anyone else as she shared an extraordinary emotional bond with her firstborn.

Little did she or the rest of us fathom that others on the outside knew it too. During the week of shiva, they came…the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, the troubled souls, each testifying to the niftar’s golden heart, to the quiet acts of chesed he’d never spoken of.

While he frequently brought “friends” home, Josh never let on how this one was friendless, or how the other was someone he’d spotted sitting on a stoop outdoors looking miserable. Nor had his parents heard of the time their son chose to forgo the ballgame he’d organized and excelled at, opting instead to keep company with the solitary non-athletic figure sitting on the sidelines. Unable to bear another’s suffering, Josh sat the game out and made a reject feel like a star.

At twenty years young, he hadn’t earnestly begun to taste the genuine joys of living and yet selflessly, continually, gave joy to others.

This is not the way it’s supposed to be…

* * * * *

Josh was full of life at the first Seder, delighting his parents and siblings by heartily singing the Haggadah tunes. As my daughter-in-law tearfully confided not forty-eight hours later, “Bobbi, you should have heard his magnificent rendition of the Manishtana. It was unreal!”

Why is this night different from all the other nights? Did he feel a stirring in his soul?

I wish I’d heard him – yet will be eternally grateful for the gems Hashem in His benevolence had planted as solace for my grieving children at an incredibly trying juncture in their lives. Josh had always exhibited a passion for music and was blessed with the gift for song. Apparently he had recorded himself singing the 23rd and 121st psalms of Tehillim a while back and, typical of his self-effacing manner, had left the priceless audio in an old phone backup file – to be discovered by his bereft dad on Chol HaMoed.

Poignantly, heartrendingly, he consoles us in our time of unspeakable grief. “Gam ki elech b’gai tzalmavet lo irah rah ki atah imadi – Though I walk in the valley overshadowed by death, I will fear no evil for You are with me…”

Hashem yishmor tzietcha uvoecha meiata vead olam – Hashem will guard your going out and coming in from now until forever.”


Previous articleLiberman to Hamas: Don’t Test Us — It’ll Be your Final Round
Next articleNew York’s Oldest Congregation to Appeal Ruling on Newport Synagogue $7.4 Million Grab
Rachel Weiss is the author of “Forever In Awe” (Feldheim Publishers) and can be contacted at