Thursday, July 9, 2009

True Comfort

The following is from a letter that Rav Wolbe, zt”l, sent to another gadol who lost his mother in 1977:
“...During your shivah I was unable to visit and comfort your precious family…so I write the following lines in an effort to comfort you. Comforting a mourner does not entail enabling him to forget his mourning, as many mistakenly believe. We see this from the verse in Parshas Chayei Sora, ‘And Yitzchak was comforted after his mother…’ He was comforted when he returned to the tent and saw that everything was on exactly the same spiritual level as when his mother was alive. From here we learn the definition of true nechama. When someone loses a relative, they often find that they had been leaning on the parent to enable their spiritual level. For this reason, people often fall spiritually after the death of a close relative. This then is the definition of nechama: to encourage the mourners and help prevent them from falling spiritually.
The letter continued, “…Your mother, the daughter of gedolim, surely helped you stand at your present exalted level… To one as understanding as yourself, it is surely apparent that this is an opportunity for spiritual growth to ensure that the new generation without her will not fall short of the earlier generation in any way, but will continue to grow spiritually, maintaining the high standards of the past. This is an aspect of: "כי אבי ואמי עזבוני וה' יאספני"—‘for my father and mother have abandoned me, but Hashem will gather me in’…”

Rav Shach once made a shivah call to a man who had lost his wife. It is not unusual for men to be completely debilitated after sustaining such a devastating loss. Not surprisingly, this man was completely crushed.
“You must remember that a Jew is never alone!” Rav Shach exclaimed. To encourage him, Rav Shach told him the following Midrash:
A certain Jew was traveling on a ship filled with gentiles. When the ship reached a strange port, the other passengers asked the Jew to go down and make purchases for the rest.
“But I know no one here,” the Jew protested.
“But a Jew is surely never alone, since wherever he is his G-d is always with him,” they replied.
These words comforted the forlorn widower.

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