Tzemach Yehudah Richter
Tzemach Yehudah Richter

Drs. Yaakov & Tzvi Cohen: Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi (Jonathan) Sacks — Parshat Devarim



My previous Blog was written before the body of Dr. Brad Cohen was identified this past Friday, Erev Parshat Devarim. These past three weeks have not been an easy time for his family and friends, while waiting for confirmation of what happened to him. Perhaps this now brings closure, but just like all those other families who lost loved ones, they will never forget.

That question comes up again -Why does such a terrible accident have to happen to such special people?

But looking deeper into the accident at Miami Surfside gives me incentive to find key facts and events contained in the Tanach, which includes the Torah, Prophets and Writings. And then looking at other events which seem to be connected.

Connecting Hebrew Names

In the case of Drs. Brad and his brother Gary, we were informed that Brad’s Hebrew name is Yaakov Reuvein Ha-Kohen. Gary’s Hebrew name is Tzvi Nosson Hakohen. Therefore, the combination of each first name results in Yaakov Tzvi.

Rabbi Jonathan (Yaakov Tzvi) Sacks ZT”L

I have pointed this out previously, that our firstborn is also named Yaakov Tzvi. Therefore, when I noticed that name made up the combination of both Cohen brother’s first names, I immediately thought there would be something relevant that Rabbi Sacks said as it applies to these very well-respected doctors who passed away so suddenly and tragically at Miami Surfside.

From Rabbi Sacks’ Website, a link to which appears below-

He wrote a very inspiring piece which appears in the “Covenant And Conversation” section as well as his personal TOI Blogs discussing this past week’s Parsha of Devorim.

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Highlights from that piece follow which I feel could easily apply to the Cohen brothers-

Moses seemed to have now achieved everything he was destined to achieve. For him there would be no more battles to fight, no more miracles to perform, no more prayers to make on behalf of the people.

It is what Moses did next that bears the mark of greatness. For the final month of his life he stood before the assembled people, and delivered the series of addresses we know as the book of Deuteronomy or Devarim, literally “words.

In the last month of his life Moses ceased to be the liberator, the miracle-worker, the redeemer, and became instead Moshe Rabbeinu, “Moses, our teacher.” He was the first example in history of the leadership type in which Jews have excelled: the leader as teacher.

Teachers are the unacknowledged builders of the future, and if a leader seeks to make lasting change, they must follow in the footsteps of Moses and become an educator. The leader as teacher, using influence not power, spiritual and intellectual authority rather coercive force, was one the greatest contributions Judaism ever made to the moral horizons of humankind and it can be seen most clearly in the Book of Devarim, when Moses for the last month of his life summoned the next generation and taught them laws and lessons that would survive, and inspire, as long as there are human beings on earth.

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Everything I have read about these brothers seem to match what Rabbi Sacks described as a good leader and teacher, especially toward the end of their lives. They were always willing to go that extra mile to help their patients and were good teachers to their children.

Those brothers were both Kohanim and as it turns out their bodies were both discovered together on that Wednesday representing the fourth Aliyah of Parshat Maasei that I mention in my previous Blog when we read about Aaron’s death.

We all know Hashem is in charge and hopefully the events at Miami Surfside lead to the beginning of Moshiach’s appearance speedily in our days and the end to all our suffering.

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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