Two Deaths — Two Worlds

Last week, two very unique and different individuals passed away. Yossi Sarid, the former head of the Leftist Meretz party died suddenly of a heart attack. He was eulogized as a man of intense principle, honesty, and had a deep love for Israel. Rav Tzvi Klamen was the former head of the English department at Machon Meir in Jerusalem. He was eulogized as a holy man who was also very honest and loved Israel, but was a Torah scholar and a religious, believing Jew.

On December 29th 2013, Yossi Sarid was interviewed on Army Radio where he described a most unusual event. He had a near death experience where he said, “I died. I already wasn’t in this world and watched my children miserably accepting my death.” He went on to describe how he saw his wife drive to the hospital and somehow he was revived.

The interviewer asked how he could explain such an incident when he believed that the body and soul are one. His experience would prove that although the body dies, the soul is eternal. Yossi Sarid’s response was that he still believes that the body and soul are one. He then said, “But what happened to me, it seems does not correspond with my ideology.” But the interviewer said, “Therefore, your testimony is the most convincing I’ve ever heard!”

When Rav Klamen was hospitalized nearly two weeks before his passing, he called in his family to say good by to each of his offspring. He was eighty four and felt that G-d had blessed him with great abundance. He told his family that he was not afraid and that he knew that his body was no longer functioning. He also felt that it was G-d who was calling him and he even described seeing bright lights when he was in a dimly lit room. He recited clearly the three paragraphs of Shema which were the last words he uttered.

This is an amazing contrast of two men who were loved and respected by their families and peers. The message of the story is crystal clear. When one dedicates his life to Torah and Mitzvot, it leaves him with a sense of peacefulness and contentment even when leaving this world. But the scoffer is left with his cynicism and doubt no matter how clearly he is shown the emptiness of his beliefs.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.