Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Where Were You?
"Where were you?" Whether the question is from Mom, the boss, the wife, the husband or the grown children; they are not asking, they are accusing: Why weren't you where you were supposed to be?
Your answer is an excuse. Unless you answer "I've been here the whole time."
A shepherd sees a little lamb run off. The shepherd runs after the lamb: to save it from wolves, to ensure the lamb has enough water and enough tender green grass.
While chasing the lamb, he sees a bush on fire, but it isn't burning. He takes off his shoes in deference. He is told by He-knows-who to go free the people from Pharaoh.
But they will ask me Your name, what do I say? asks the shepherd. A bizarre question matched by an equally perplexing answer: tell them my name is I Will Be As I Will Be. (It is the first recorded conversation between the world's greatest teacher and the world's foremost student.)
Is Anyone Too Good to Die?
“What would you want people to say at your funeral?” asked the rabbi. “That you were kind and generous? That you were intelligent and articulate? I’ll tell you want I would want people to say . . . ‘He’s still moving!’”
Jews don’t glorify death, even though we believe that there is glory after death. Instead, Jews celebrate life. So, long after someone dies, we continue to celebrate his or her life.
Even the Torah’s description of death can be viewed as a description of life. Especially the death of Jacob.
When Abraham dies, the Torah writes, “And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life that he lived: one hundred years and seventy years and five years. And Abraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and he was gathered to his people.”
I've often reflected on the lack of tact that some people demonstrate when visiting a house of mourning. Of course, nobody means to be insensitive. No one consciously sets out to further hurt the feelings of the newly bereaved, and I'm positive that if people just thought a bit deeper about what they were going to say, they'd never make such obvious errors of tact.
Some things are obvious: Don't stride in and announce to all present the latest mazal tov in your family. Don't sit on the side, ignoring the mourner while chatting and giggling with a friend. Don't spend your visit minimizing the mourner’s loss by comparing this family tragedy with the losses you've personally suffered in the past.