Sunday December 22, 2019 (24 Kislev 5780)
by Tzvi Schnee
Time is sanctified, within the framework of the Jewish religion, by blessings, the holidays, and the observance of the Sabbath. This morning, at the cemetery, my father’s tombstone (machshaveh) was sanctified, at a service called the Unveiling. His life was sanctified by his commitments to G-d, time spent recognising the holy (kadosh), and the mitzvot (commandments), as well as countless good deeds, constituting the derech (path) of a mensch (good person). Perhaps, he was even a hidden tzaddik (righteous person) – only G-d knows what is in the heart of a person. My father’s soul lives on until the time of the Tehillas HaMeisim (the Resurrection of the Dead), when souls are restored to their bodies. I look forward to seeing him at the Great Banquet – the feast of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. May all of our lives be kindled for the sake of eternity.
Tonight begins the first night of Chanukah, a time of reflection for me, especially this year. Last year, my father passed away on the 29th of Kislev, the fifth day of Chanukah; this Friday is his first yahrzeit (annual memorial). At the cemetery this morning, I led Kaddish, the traditional mourner’s prayer, after the Rabbi said the blessing in order to consecrate the tombstone. There is a sense of closure; and yet, the full year will not be complete until this Friday. Technically the year-long mourning period, aveilus ended already; however, because this is a leap year on the Jewish calendar there are thirteen months. In life and in death we are sanctified; ultimately, we look forward to being crowned with eternal life. May the light of Chanukah bring this eternal joy into our lives.
“I believe by complete faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the time that will be pleasing before the Creator, blessed be His name, and the remembrance of Him will be exalted forever and for all eternity.” – thirteenth principle of Maimonides
“Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise—Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust—For Thy dew is as the dew of light, And the earth shall bring to life the shades.”
– Isaiah 26:19, JPS 1917 Tanach