In the dry desert, he found only a mirage of water – he put his lips to where the water should have been but no water was there to be found and his thirst remained unquenched.
He came across The Spring – a fountain of that essential, life-giving water.
He drank insatiably because every drop was precious to him. Every drop of water that crossed his lips gave him strength and replenished his energy. The water rejuvenated his weary soul, left forsaken for so many years.
He filled his pouch to the brim with water, and ventured back into the desert of false promises
When he encountered fellow wanderers, lost in this wilderness of mirages, he gave them to drink from his pouch and directed them toward the spring
He lived for that water,
The water of wisdom
The water of Torah.
It was a strange emotion that pervaded the shiva house throughout the past week. Somewhat indescribable. It was an emotion that I’ve never quite experienced before. It was a concoction of several other emotions. There was genuine sadness, obviously – my loss, my family’s loss and indeed the world’s loss is immeasurable. But there was also gratitude, in fact it was primarily gratitude. At the Levaya, thank you was a constant refrain in my head. Thank you for being my father, thanks for your guidance, thanks for your lessons, thanks for your love. I describe the shiva house as a celebration of my father’s life.
Another primary emotion was inspiration. Learning from a life well lived. For me, the greatest inspiration comes from peering into my father’s mind. He lost his father when he was only 8, he was raised by a single mother and money did not flow freely. Then, after receiving a huge scholarship to Cornell university, just when things were looking up and the future looked bright, he gave it all up because of a gut feeling. That is sacrifice.
Sacrifice is a theme that was prevalent throughout my father’s life. He never really took his own wants into account. To him, honour was worth less than the dust on his feet. He gave away the nursery school in which he had invested so much time and effort so that Sandton Sinai could be born. He gave up the joys of full time learning to take the helm of Shaarei Torah because he knew that he was the man needed for the job.
Throughout the Shiva period, hundreds of people came to tell their memories. Many stories the same common denominator. My father’s strength, the key to his accomplishments, lay in that he held fast to his principles but he held to them with love. The word ‘love’ sounds soppy and cliché, but it truly is the only word that can describe his relationship with other people. He loved all of G-D’s creations. He did not look at the superficial differences between people. He did not look at how religious a person was. He saw a person with a heart and loved them entirely for it. People recognized this. This is the key factor that drew people towards him and this is an attribute that we are all able to emulate. If only we could all incorporate a little unconditional love into our lives.
This love is also what made my father such a good parent. Incorporating the lessons of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families into the way they raised their children, my parents managed to do the impossible. They managed to raise 12 distinct individuals in a spiritual desert so that they all got along and all grew up to be Bnei Torah. This was perhaps my father’s greatest achievement. His chinuch meant that his legacy can be, and will be, continued. His flame will burn on. Where comfort is scarce, I take comfort in that.