Thursday, November 1, 2007


Posted by IshbitzForever

Sara died in Kiryat Arba which is Hebron in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to eulogize Sara and to cry over her.

Bereishit 23:2

Whether through anecdote or adjective, when eulogizing, we use words to convey ideas about the deceased. We attempt to describe to the assembled who the deceased was as a parson and who they were to us. We pay tribute, give thanks and ask forgiveness. We hone in on lessons learned, and pledge not to forget.

Words however can never describe the piece of us that dies along with that person. The part of us to which only our beloved had the key, making us who we were. An entire dimension of our being lost forever. For this loss there are no words. The heart and soul's private loss can never be expressed - bystanders only see the evidence of this inner hell - the sobbing and tears.

The Talmud states "A woman dies only to her husband." The difficulty with the statement is obvious, what of children, parents and friends - do they not feel the loss?

According to Jewish tradition the husband and wife are really one.

This idea is not only expressed in Kabbalistic writings where we are taught the souls actually unite to form one complete soul - but reflected in matters of practical law. One tiny example - Just as one is required to rise and stand in the presence of a Torah scholar so to one must stand for his wife, the Talmud states the reason as "Ishto K'gufo" - "His Wife is like his Own Body."

A good woman is the light in a man's life and can inspire and help him be beyond what he could ever have been alone. She soaks into his being - she fills him - with a sense of beauty, magic, mystery, encouragement, hope, and strength.

When the Talmud tells us that "a woman dies only to her husband" - it means no one else dies along with her in their entirety like her husband, who has lost his entire being.

This last week my Rosh Yeshiva, my dear teacher, lost his wife after seven long years of cancer. Although I haven't seen them together but for the briefest of moments - I could get a tiny glimpse of what she meant to him during the Shiva. Their amazing relationship reflected in his anguished silence and streaming tears. It broke every heart. A brilliant man, lost and in a hell no person can save him from - we his students could only look on helplessly.

Abraham eulogized Sara, he said what he could put into words to the crowd, but then there were only tears.

A prayer for my Rabbi - "May G-d Console You Together and Among All the Mourners of Zion in Jerusalem." - Amen


  1. Thank you for putting into words what all of us - Reb Kalman's students - feel.

  2. Thank you for this poignant post which displays the universal elements in what was a very personal loss...

  3. This is priceless--as Pshat, as Derush and as Nechama. It's also Ishbitz, as it reverses the Pshat offered by so many.

  4. Eliezer Brodt11/06/2007 10:30 AM

    Incredible job!