The Heart of Rosh HaShana

Abundance of Rosh HaShana merits (Massimo Fioranelli)

In Memoriam

We know that ז’ך אלול, the 27th of Elul will be upon us.

Danny a’h, we tell ourselves and each other חֲ֖זַק וְיַֽאֲמֵ֣ץ, because we all know that means another Rosh HaShana without you will be here soon.      

Almost 10 years ago to the day I wrote you these words…

Dear Danny, z’l, Always My Big Brother, 

It’s been nearly 2 years since your Petira, and the pain hasn’t diminished one iota.  You are held deeply inside where I keep you and wrap you in my love.  I want to hold on and never let go.  I feel better knowing you live on inside of all of us who love you so dearly.  I miss you so terribly much.  I miss your voice and talking to you.  I miss your calling me Miriam Leah Sister Dear.   I miss picking up the phone to call you.  I need to talk to you so badly some times.  I miss the phone ringing, knowing you are on the other end.    I wish I could just have a conversation with you.  I miss your voice Danny, but I remember it as best I can, and talk to you in my thoughts and prayers…  I know you somehow still look after me from Above…

Now My Dear, Dear Brother, it’s been nearly 12 years since your Petira.   The pain hasn’t diminished one iota.  My appreciation for you and my love for you only grow as the void inside never contracts.   Don’t know why some people say, well eventually you’ll see with time it’ll be easier, or get better, or the void won’t be as great.   They don’t know what they’re talking about.  Best I can do is fill some of that void with love, poetry and music.  

I will never run out of things to say when it comes to remembering you.   

In reading so many of your letters from when you were ill, it’s as if I hear your voice.  The depths to which you reached to attain more strength remind me that your voice stayed strong, no matter how much your body was aching and your vocal cords were weakened.  You dug deeper and deeper into your innermost recesses, you were sure the Ribbono Shel Olam was always with you…  and He would carry you that much farther.     You believed in  וּתְשׁוּבָה וּתְפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה  מַעֲבִירִין אֶת רעַ הַגְּזֵרָהHaShem knows you had more than your share of trials and setbacks.  You never gave up and you were always determined not to be defeated.  Digging deeper for more strength, and how you managed it, always left me in awe.   

It is so hard to accept how things are, when they seem so utterly disconcerting.  Sometimes it seems no matter how much effort is channeled into doing the right thing, and working toward justice and truth, it still isn’t enough.   But, we are mere human beings.  We can only continue to follow in the good Lord’s ways and keep working harder to turn darkness into light.  I must believe as you did, that striving for D’veykus with Him will give me more strength and the ability to move forward without losing faith and without caving in to defeat.  

Keep saying to myself and others, only HaShem knows the bigger picture from His כסא הכבוד.  Only He could possibly understand why things happen as they do.  I am at a loss, can’t possibly pretend to have a clue.  Makes me think of the song you and I often listened to and sang,

רַבּ֣וֹת מַחֲשָׁב֣וֹת בְּלֶב־אִ֑ישׁ וַעֲצַ֥ת ה’ הִ֣יא תָקֽוּם   It is completely as God sets it, no matter the many thoughts one has in the heart. (Mishlei)   The Rabbi’s Sons 

There are so very many things I want to say Danny.   My heart yearns to talk to yours, heart to heart.  I suppose in your own way you already know what I wish to share with you.  You always used integrity as your guide and never strayed from your convictions.  How is it that so many people are so off course that they come to accept שֶׁקֶר as אֶמֶת?   They don’t even think about it.  They are completely engrossed with misguided notions of (self) righteousness.  Thinking they are doing the right thing they end up hurting others, because they insist on trying to fit others into their perception of justice.  It feels like they think if they push hard enough, the rest of us will somehow buckle under pressure.  After all, with time things change.  They just don’t get it.  As if אֶמֶת is not absolute, and can be molded to their tailoring!  Instead of trying to understand and acknowledge God’s Truth, they opt to be in control. 

You and I know differently.  Mom and Dad raised us on a healthy and plentiful serving of אֶמֶת. Their way of life set the tone for how they expected us to live.  Be a mentsch and remain upright, wherever life takes us.  As long as we’d lead our lives in that way, then we’d grow to be mentschen.  That was the ideal.  They still appreciate Truth as it should be.  They hold their values high and proud and they’ve never compromised.  You lived that way your whole life, and I strive to do the same.  

You’re in a place where you can see and feel God’s Presence now.   I will hold on to that thought as Rosh HaShana comes!  On your kever are the befitting words of David HaMelech from Tehillim,

Danny’s Kever in Eretz Yisroel

“He who walks uprightly and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”  You had such a pure soul, walked in God’s ways, and Truth in your heart showed in all you ever did.

My heart to heart pleads with you to keep praying for TRUTH to reach all of us here, such that there be no room for שֶׁקֶר.  May we be blessed with recognizing and knowing the difference, and never faltering to the side of Falsehood.  May those who don’t accept אֶמֶת come to realize its essence and shed the שֶׁקֶר that is so divisive.  Rosh HaShana will be here very soon, and since you were chosen to be with The Holy One Himself, it will never be the same again for me (for us). 

In the merit of your pure neshama,  I will dig deeper, and hold fast to וּתְשׁוּבָה וּתְפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה.

Danny a’h, was niftar Shabbos Kodesh 27 Elul 5768

Danny, my dear, dear big brother, I will always love you.  Thanks for always looking after me.  

 ‘קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־ה’ חֲ֖זַק וְיַֽאֲמֵ֣ץ לִבֶּ֑ךָ וְ֜קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־ה *

I’m glad we had this heart to heart.

Love,  Your Miriam Leah Sister Dear 


Miriam Leah

* (as engraved on Danny’s tombstone)Hope for the Lord, be strong and He will give your heart courage, and hope for the Lord”, Tehillim 27 -ז’ך, which is read beginning Rosh Chodesh Elul through Shmini Atzeres.  During Elul the Shofar is blown after reciting this psalm, except Erev Rosh HaShana.

About the Author
Miriam Leah Epstein Preil grew up in the midwest, but her heart has always been in Israel! She began playing piano by ear when she was six years old, and by age seven was already studying piano seriously. Her musicality and passion for music were remarkable from an early age. She and the piano are inseparable! Music fills her life and home. Miriam Leah has composed pieces for piano, piano and voice, and many Niggunim. Her poetry is unique, each poem stands on its own yet becomes greater within her collection of poems. All universal. She utilizes her writing to engage people in thought, stir discussion, share insights, support causes, bring forth truths, educate, and inspire souls. She has taught Judaics and Jewish music extensively in Jewish Day schools for many years. Miriam Leah combines her love of music and creative writing with her devotion to Am Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel, through her writing of Divrei Torah and advocating for Jewish values and Israel.
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