A PARSHA THOUGHT FROM RAV DOVID FEINSTEIN, ZT’L
Parshas Chayei Sarah -
In Search of Greatness
וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ - And Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep over her
The posuk is somewhat puzzling. Is it not human nature to weep over the loss of a loved one immediately upon their passing? Does one wait for eulogies to begin to express emotion and to cry?
In truth, Avraham shed only a few tears for Sarah. Indeed, due to Sarah’s longevity, he could have made a joyous “siyum” over her long and productive life!
And yet, Avraham eulogized her and shed tears - in that order.
A hesped for a tzaddik provides an opportunity to reflect upon the colossal loss of global merit and universal protection the world suffers at the death of a righteous person.
Eulogies are a medium to articulate and communicate to the wider public and ourselves the direct impact the greater public and in particular, the Jewish People, suffer, when deprived of someone of exceptional merit and worth.
Similarly, we find in the Gemara that Rav exhorted his students to exaggerate their emotions during eulogies to be delivered after his death - to underscore to listeners the value and impact a tzaddik has on his or her generation.
Some people wouldn’t be moved to tears upon hearing of his petirah, reasoned Rav, so educate them to help them understand what it means to lose a model Jew or Torah sage in Israel!
The Gemara describes how soon after the passing of Rav, his students were stymied by a halachic question and realizing their inability to ever ask their Rebbe and resolve the legal crisis, they tore their clothes in grief, again.
We convince ourselves we understand the tzaddikim and gedolei Yisroel but it is only after their passing that we start the process of truly evaluating their greatness and then we begin to appreciate what we had...