Three of the important personalities in the Tanach have names which testified to their unique personalities.
The first is David, King of Israel, whose Hebrew name means “beloved”
The second is Eliyahu, a prophet of God who will herald the coming of the Messiah. A welcome guest at the Passover seder in every Jewish home. His name in Hebrew means “Hashem is my God”.
The third is Gedaliah, appointed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to be governor in Judah after the destruction of the Temple. His name in Hebrew means “my God is great”.
Early in our Bible, in the Book of Genesis, we are told that Noah walked WITH God, while Abraham walked BEFORE God.
The great commentator Rashi offers an explanation. “Noah had to walk WITH God because he needed His support, while Abraham, on the other hand, was strong enough in his righteousness to walk alone BEFORE God.”
Combining the three names we have “David Eliyahu ben Gedaliah”, a holy man of God. And God walks BEFORE and WITH him. He can never be alone. Hashem Yitborach is constantly with him.
I know this to be truth because David Eliyahu ben Gedaliah is my beloved and esteemed Rabbi. His immense knowledge of our Torah inspires those in our synagogue who listen carefully to his sermons. His lips move, his voice is heard, but the words he speaks come only from his great heart.
To his name should be added “Menachem”, the Comforter, for he consoles and comforts the ill, the dying, and those who mourn for deceased loved ones. His mercy and compassion are among the many gifts with which Hashem has blessed him.
The thousands of our readers who have read my columns in past may recall how he appeared at my home together with his wife at 3:30 in the morning of September 23, 2016, within 15 minutes following the death of my beloved wife.
Heart-broken with no real will to go on living without her, it was Rabbi David Eliyahu ben Gedaliah Polakoff who hugged me and gave me strength to cope with my sudden loss. His magnificent words at Rahel’s funeral created a flood of tears for me, my three children and three grandchildren, all of us in shock, in great pain, standing to recite the kaddish prayer.
I do not know how many mourners have been comforted by him both at the funerals, cemeteries, and houses of shiva, but it must have been a thousand, perhaps more, during the many years of his rabbinate.
I do know with all my heart and soul that my God, his God, our God, walks with HaRav David Eliyahu ben Gedaliah Polakoff, sh’lita. One can see it in his eyes, in his face, in his smile. One can feel it in his hugs and kisses. When he comforts me, I know that the unseen God has blessed me through my Rabbi.
This week, I and my children will observe the 2nd yahrzeit for a sainted and adored wife and mother.
We will visit her grave at the cemetery, we will light a memorial candle, we will cry bitter tears, and we will go to the synagogue to pray. I will ask God to bless us with increased strength and courage to go on living as she would have wanted. But our pain will not be diminished. It never will.
An Orthodox Jew, she and God were partners. Each day she spoke to Him in Hebrew. I could not hear His replies but Rahel believed that she did. And she lived her 81 years steadfast in that belief.
Because of her death two years ago I have been living in darkness. Perhaps soon Hashem will look upon me and cry out “Yehi Or”… Let there be light. And I will joyfully reply “Va yehi or”… And there is light.
Pending that day, the main source of my light, my life, and my reason to go on living, eminates from the loving heart of my loving Rabbi…David Eliyahu ben Gedaliah.
What’s in the three names? K’shmom ken hu… as are their names, so is he.
May the Holy One, the Comforter of Israel, bless him and his family with good health and long years of life, that he may bring comfort to other lives as he has brought to mine.
Blessed be the parents who gave birth to him. Blessed be the soul which Hashem implanted within him. Blessed be he who faithfully devotes every waking hour of his life to the service of our One and Holy God.