"From Moshe till Moshe, there arose none like Moshe." (famous Jewish folk saying)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Today is my Grandpa's 8th Yartzeit

This was the hesped I gave at my Grampa's funeral. Its message still resonates with me today. He was a great man.

16th of Av, 5757
Lispod V’Livkosah - we learn from our father Avraham Avinu, that when his wife Sarah died, he cried and he eulogized.
When my grandfather took ill several weeks ago I began to think about him in many different ways. Who was he? What did he accomplish in life? What has he taught us and what will be his legacy? You may think I am being disrespectful, but truthfully I was stumped and I have not been able to put my finger on the answer to these questions. It was in this confusion that I began to realize that my ambivalence to all of these things was really the essence of Grandpa’s greatness.

I realize that many of those here today, who have come to find comfort and give comfort maybe as perplexed as I am. I hope that in these few brief moments I will be able to offer a glimmer of brilliance to what my grandfather meant to each of us.
Medically speaking, Grandpa had it rough. It was not an uncommon occurrence to call home and hear that Grandpa is in - or was in - the hospital. We often joked that he was such a “regular” they were going to name a wing of Mt. Auburn Hospital in his honor. His favorite book was the most current edition of the PDR - Physicians Desk Reference guide. Grandpa knew so much about medicine that for years my sister and I thought he was a doctor.

But his ill health never made him bitter or resentful. He never questioned why G-d had thrown him so many maladies. And if you would ever ask him, “How are you doing Grandpa?”, his response was- And I will always try hard to remember his raspy voice - “I’m Ok.” He was a wonderful patient and many of his gifted and talented physicians, and nurses considered him a friend rather than as a patient.

The Gemara in Sukka comments on the verse in Micha that “Hegecha Lecha Adam MAh Tov - What is good and what does Hashem require of us?” The answer, “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Hashem.” Judaism requires us to treat ever individual with dignity and respect because man was created B’Tzelem Elokim - In the image of Hashem. At the core of this are 2 basic Jewish concepts: Dignity of Man and simplicity.

Grandpa was a private, quite, simple, humble and unassuming human being. He never asked for much and was always happy with what ever he was given. Grandpa did not expect things from people and had no expectations of others. This perspective on life that Grandpa taught us allows a person to be happy with whatever he is given. If you don't expect something, he would say, and you get it.... you’ll be happy. If you expected it coming to you..... why be happy when you got it. You expected it.

We never saw Grandpa when he was not “put together.” Even recently, when I went to visit him in the hospital, Grandpa asked me to wait outside his room until he had been given a shave. He was always dapper, with his hat and bow tie. And if no bow tie, then his shirt was always buttoned to the top. Of course as one of his grandchildren, I would always loosen the button - Dov Baer wanted to wear his shirt buttoned to the top today just like Grandpa.

Azehu Chacham - Halomayd Mikol Adam - He who learns from all men. Grandpa never tried or wanted to be the life of the party. Because he was a listener. He was always keenly listening and never really offered his opinion unless he was asked for it. He would often wait for the right moment and then chime in... with just a few words. And then his comments would be discussed well after the day was over.

Grandpa was a gifted mechanical engineer and creative artist. (he never took a lesson and started painting at age 75. This sunset picture was one of his first. SB said she liked it, and he took it off his wall and gave it to her) He had an understanding of how systems worked and he was proud of it. If you ever looked carefully at his paintings you would see the peacefulness of his images and the brilliance of his colors. These were symbolic of the way he captured life. Grandpa was outwardly pride-less, yet inwardly very prideful of his accomplishments. Recently he told my mother and I, that he had done so many things in life. He had done it all, and what ever he did, he was the best. Until recently I had no idea what Grandpa’s profession really was. He never talked about it. He was modest in his privacy.

Grandpa’s relationship with Bobbi was something we often marveled as grandchildren. I am not sure how often Bobbi and Grandpa agreed on things, but in their 56 years of marriage, we always knew Grandpa and Bobbi to agree to disagree - Always in a respectful way. You don't necessarily need to agree with someone - And have the same outlook and view on life to be in love. The art of compromise - and respect - are the ways relationships are fostered developed and held together.

His daughters and his grandchildren, and now his great grandchildren were his life. How proud Grandpa was of their accomplishments, but again, he never bragged. His pride was personal and internal. When he spoke about them, his face would light up and his smile was so beautiful.

As much as we learn that Death is a part of life, Grandpa did not fear his final days. He had no enemies or conflicts to resolve.

Our tradition tells us that Eliyahu Hanavi is the symbol and guarantee of continuity for the Jewish people. That is why
Eliyahu shows up at key points in Jewish tradition: The Seder, circumcision and Havdallah. We know that although in a physical sense the light and brilliance of our Eliyahu ben Aharon Halevi has been extinguished, in a mystical sense, his light continues to burn in our hearts, our mind and our spirit.
In his own special way Grandpa has left us a legacy of how to conduct ourselves in life that will always be cherished and remembered.
This is the legacy of chesed, kindness and humility.
One need not agree with another person to show him respect.
One does not need to be the loudest to be noticed.
Give charity in a quiet way.
Ezehu Ashir - Asamayayach Bechelko - Who is the rich man? The man who is happy with his lot.
Grandpa taught us that good guys always finish.....as long as you are content with yourself ... you can be content with the world.

May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.
We miss you Grandpa. Love your favorite oldest grandson

sounds like a great man dm.
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