I could barely make out what my husband was saying. It was 7 o’clock on a Friday morning, and, as usual, I’d been up very late the night before cooking and cleaning for Shabbos. I only heard the end of the sentence, “…get up, get dressed. We have to leave soon for the levayah.”
The word “levayah” did it. I shot out of bed. “What? Who? What did you say?”
“I just told you, Leah’s father. He had a massive heart attack last night. He was dead before Hatzolah got to him. They couldn’t do anything. I can’t believe it. He’s so young, much younger than us – only 55. Poor Orli and all the kids. Poor Leah. Oh it’s terrible.”
I sank back down onto the bed. I couldn’t believe it. Our son had married Leah just over a year before, and they had recently been blessed with their first child. Oh how Uri, our mechutan, loved her, and he had had so little time to enjoy her. “Baruch Dayan Ha’Emes,” was all I could manage.
Uri’s levayah left from his shul near his home in Petach Tikvah. It was appropriate that the eulogy would be given there as his shul had always meant so much to him.
As we stood huddled together, disbelieving, I heard the rav say “…and to think that Meirav, his daughter, will now not have her father to stand with her beneath the chuppah…” The sobbing of the family around us grew louder as everyone realized the significance of what he was saying… but I didn’t.
Meirav was engaged? Surely my son or daughter in law would have told me if Leah’s sister had gotten engaged.
Later after the levayah, I asked my son, “Meirav’s engaged? When did this happen?”
“She got engaged yesterday. I never even had a chance to tell you. My father in law sent them to rabbinate to register a date for their wedding just yesterday morning. He was really insistent they register it immediately.” He stopped for a moment. “I’ve just realized… now that they have started the procedure and picked a date, they’ll probably go ahead with it. But if they hadn’t been to the Rabbinate already, would Meirav feel like getting engaged now? It’s almost as if…”
This was just one of the odd things I heard, there were more when we visited the family sitting shiva.
Our mechutan had been a simple, religious, hardworking, plumber. He was loved by everyone for his honest work, never charging a cent more than was absolutely necessary, in fact, he often charged less than he should have. He did so much building, decorating, and plumbing work for the shul in its early years without taking any money at all. The visitors, friends and neighbors, told stories of the work and ‘bits of help’ he ‘just popped in’ to do for friends, neighbors, and his community after he had finished his official work.
In between came the other, more unusual stories. One supplier said that although Uri always paid him on time, last week he had come to see him specially to settle all outstanding debts, even those which weren’t due yet.
A man who worked for Uri said that although it wasn’t the end of the month, nor anywhere near pay day, Uri had paid him two days ago for all the work he had done this month.
Uri’s wife, Orli, confirmed what my son had said. Uri had almost forced his daughter, Meirav, and her fiancé to go to the rabbinate and register their future wedding, even though there was no apparent reason to rush at the time. They hadn’t intended to start all the bureaucratic hassle for another week or so, giving them a chance to get used to being engaged. But Uri had been insistent – and now they were beginning to understand why.