Yahrzeit and Simchah

This Shabbos is the first yahrzeit of the children
Aryeh Lev ben Avraham, a”h
Noach Simcha ben Avraham, a”h
Adira Emunah bat Avraham, a”h
Natan Yekutiel ben Avraham, a”h
You may recall the story; four children, were killed when a fire struck their home in Teaneck. Firemen were at the home a mere four hours before, but declared the house safe without ever taking a thermal camera out of the truck.
Ari Seidenfeld, the oldest niftar at age 15, went to high school with my son, and in fact had invited him for Shabbos a short while earlier. The other niftarim were Noah 6, Adira 5, and Natan, a pre-kindergardener with Downs. Another sister called my home the next day from her hospital bed. How do you help your child know what to say to someone who just lost four siblings and at the time didn’t know if her mother would live? I am the “grown-up”, and I had absolutely no idea…

Their mother has asked that people dedicate some of their learning this Shabbos in their memory.

I would add that we should add some more learning as thanks to HQBH for sparing us from such things. Every day that all those many many little things that combine to keep us safe that any one could go wrong ch”v but don’t is an amazing berakhah.

On a related subject, recently Jay Lapidus, a lurker on Avodah and an e-friend to many Jewish list participants, lost his 15 yr old son. (A google search not only found Jay’s blog, Zichron Avi, and Avi’s HS, but numerous software shops, his “davening buddy” and other teens who miss him.) Avi died of acute onset diabetes. Note the word “onset”. This was not a child with a history of diabetes, or any reason to believe his fate would be any different than that of most teenagers. One moment everything is okay, and then keheref ayin — as with the blink of an eye…

And a few days later, I got a scary letter from the local tax department. BH we quickly identified and addresses the error… But at the moment that my wife and I thought we owed the state a 5 digit sum of money we didn’t own, I said to her, “Well, it’s only money. It’s not like we lost our 15 year…” Sentence never finished. I had just realized that our daughter Kayli would have been 15 now. We did in fact lose someone who would have been our 15 year old. Funny how easy it is to simply slip into life as usual.

In fact, that “everything can change in a moment” stuck my father sheyichyeh too. That night he went to bed. Life went on as usual. A couple of hours after going to sleep, the phone rings, my father heard the first words out of my mouth… before I even got to the point, just hearing my tone of voice… and he knew that his entire world had turned over. Keheref ayin.

This is Adar, a time of simchah. This entry is inappropriate (aside from being a break from my usual tone), and yet I feel compelled to share what’s on my mind. So let me conclude more on note for the season.

Hashem’s willingness to show His Mercy exceeds His other traits (as we see them). If this is how tragedy can strike, four children alive, vibrant, playing, one day, gone the next, picture what we mean by “Yeshu’as Hashem keheref ayin — the salvation of G-d will be like the blink of an eye!”

And simchah… What is simchah? “Eizhu ashir? Hasamei’ach bechelqo — Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot.” But too often we take life as usual for granted. Everything goes on. So much of that cheileq “just works”, despite the fact that our lives are far more complex than those programs I write that always have some known bugs. Bechemlah — with Divine compassion as we say in Modeh Ani. Truly, rabba emunasekha! Hashem is both ne’eman, reliable, and has emunah, faith in us.

So yes, certainly, learn in memory those who died too young. And then, learn some more in gratitude for all those many more who didn’t. That tragedies like theirs are the very rare exception, and how blessed is “life as usual”.

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  1. Jay Lapidus says:

    Thank you, Micha, for your words about Avi and the blog.

  2. Anonymous says:

    R’ Micha,

    That message was very powerful. Thanks so much for putting things in perspective.

    It’s amazing that despite the fact that we think we show hakaras hatov, we’re really being k’fuyei tov.

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