And You Shall Live

Categories: Chayei Sarah, Parsha

A WEEKLY TORAH THOUGHT FROM RABBI MORDY

No amount of Rabbinical School training prepares you for a week like this past one. The amount of numbness, emotions, sadness, love, shock, awe, mourning, and support has been overwhelming for many and the days ahead will likely prove to be overwhelming as well. In truth, I should leave it this week saying simply that there are just no words. Actions, yes, but at a time like this, there really aren’t adequate words to talk about what each of us individually, and then collectively, experienced this week. And yet, as has been the theme throughout the week, we need to try and venture on. We need to keep some degree of normalcy regardless of how not normal these circumstances are.
This week’s Parsha is Chayei Sara, which literally means, “The life of Sarah – our matriarch.” Ironically, though, the Parsha itself glosses over her passing and discusses life after Sarah. Strange! Why not name the Parsha “Isaac” or “Rebecca” or anyone else discussed here at length? Perhaps this can serve as a lesson for us here today. This week we experienced our fair share of death and destruction. It was a deeply difficult week. And yet, through all of the clouds and smoke, we got to hear, to share and to experience lives. To hear about eleven tremendous individuals who impacted their worlds for the better. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit the mourners who are still mourning or to read up on those who passed away. This is the lesson of Chayei Sarah, the life of Sarah. Yes, Sarah passes away and is mourned, but her life is then celebrated. Only after her time on earth is through can we look back at her life and see the legacy she left. Only after her passing do we feel the full impact she had on others and, in turn, on our entire nation. The value of a life can only be truly measured by those who live on, carrying on the deceased one’s values and ideals. When we perpetuate what these eleven people stood for as individuals, it is then that they will truly live. But their death contains a uniquely powerful opportunity for us, too. If we want to collectively honor them—eleven holy martyrs who died solely because they were Jews— we must live with an exponentially increased connection to our Jewishness. They can no longer express their love for Judaism; we must do it for them. May the memories of Daniel Stein, Joyce Fienberg, Rose Mallinger, Irving Younger, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Melvin Wax, Jerry Rabinowitz and Richard Gottfried be a blessing for their families and for our entire community. May their loved ones and all of us be comforted and may we have a Shabbat shalom, a Shabbat of peace. Good Shabbos.

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