Her husband died and she couldn’t attend the funeral

I am sharing here a conversation I had this past Tuesday, with hopes that this might bring comfort to those who needs. MK

* * *

The phone rang.

“Is this the rabbi?”

“Yes, how can I help?”

“I am a geriatric social worker at ____. We have a Jewish resident who just lost her husband Harvey and because of COVID19, she couldn’t attend her funeral.

“I thought that having her speak to a Rabbi will help. Would you be willing to speak to her?”

“Of course”.

About an hour later, I was on the phone with “Lisa”.

“Hi Lisa, this is Rabbi Mendy Kaminker calling, from Chabad of Hackensack”.

“Rabbi, thank you for calling”.

“I was so sorry to hear about the passing of your husband Harvey. It must be so painful not to be able to attend the funeral.”

“Indeed, it is”.

“Unfortunately, it happens so often recently. Just a few days ago I officiated at a Zoom funeral”.

“Rabbi, you know what pains me the most? That I couldn’t say goodbye to him. I wasn’t there to say goodbye!”

“I am sure!

“You know, Lisa, there is one idea that I share at almost every funeral, but now it got so much more powerful.

“At the beginning of every funeral, the mourners are tearing their garments. Why? The Zohar explains that the garment symbolizes the body. And just like a garment can be torn but the person will stay whole, the body is only a garment, an outer layer to who we truly are – the soul.

“So at the physical funeral we say goodbye to the body. But the soul lives on. The relationship continues. So your husband Harvey, wherever he is, was able to hear your goodbye, where you are. From his place in heaven, Harvey is able to see your love and care, to feel your pain. And his soul is loving you back, and is pained together with you”.

“This is beautiful. I never thought about it this way. Is there something that I can still do for him?”

“Yes! A soul in heaven is in its happiest place. But there is only one thing its missing: Mitzvot. Because a Mitzvah can be done only in our physical and material world.

“So when you do a Mitzvah in his honor, like lighting Shabbat and holiday candles, learning Torah or putting a coin in a charity box in his memory, it’s like sending a love letter to him.”

“Thank you Rabbi, that was very comforting”.

“Thank you Lisa for your kind words. I want to wish you long life, health and only happiness from now on”.

[We finished by saying Psalm 23 together].

May all of the mourners be comforted, and may the entire universe be comforted with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days. Amen.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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