Yakir Hexter, ztk”l, Hy”d, was many things to many people, but for me – although I am his aunt and he was my nephew, I loved him like a son. We were truly blessed that he was born down the road from us and that we were able to watch him grow into an amazing man. And we were doubly blessed that he spent much of the last decade in a Yeshiva two blocks away from us. We were able to host him for many Shabbat and Yom Tov meals and he was ever present in our home and hearts, even when he wasn’t around.
Aunts don’t sit shiva, but I am definitely standing shiva. It is a strange space to be in. The tears won’t dry and yet life is meant to go on as normal. One of the things that struck me at my sister, brother-in-law and nephews shiva house – as I listened to all the people who knew him from different stages and different facets of his life – was that each person saw something different in him. Some of his friends said he was wild and crazy, some of his Rabbanim said he was a serious Ben Torah, some of his neighbors said he was kind and thoughtful, and the list goes on.
Yakir was a hero, I used to joke with him that he blew up half of Gaza. But if there is one thing I can say about Yakir, although he was always so humble and never thought much of himself, is that he was not one thing or another, he was everything in perfect harmony and fusion. There was no contradiction, conflict or confusion as to who he was or where he was headed. He used every trait and talent, every facet and challenge to grow, improve, mature and contribute.
Yakir was serious yet funny; talented and creative yet humble; brave and strong yet gentle and kind; smart yet silly; responsible yet daring and adventurous; diligent yet carefree, Torani yet worldly; heavy yet light; spiritual yet grounded; focused yet aware of others; driven yet laid back; astute and expressive yet non-critical and polite; quiet yet loud; loving and engaged yet introspective and reserved; always striving for excellence yet never at the expense of others.
He was a true Mensch in every sense of the word. The word mensch is used to mean a good person, but it literally means man. To be a man. Such a simple word and yet so difficult to achieve. He was not macho, but he was manly. He was not aggressive, but he was driven. He wanted to be excellent in everything he did. And he was. I know that he is shaking his head at me in shamayim saying: “Na, stop it Doda Sara, that other guy over there – he’s the masmid, he’s the genius , he’s the impressive one, not me.” But Yakir, you were always the impressive one, and for me you always will be. I love you so much and I am so sorry that my bracha to you did not come true this year. I really wanted to dance at your wedding.
Yakir, please storm the heavens for us that this will all end in total victory and salvation, and that Am Yisrael will know no more sorrow. It is too much pain already. Missing you so much already – Doda Sara