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Sunday, October 31, 2010

חסד של אמת Chessed Shel Emet, RivkA's Funeral

This post is an elaboration of my comment to Jameel's post on RivkA's blog, Coffee and Chemo written after her funeral.  Here's my comment to his post, and following that is my post about the funeral:

Thanks, Jameel,
I was one of the lucky ones to be near the front. I could see what a good friend you are to the family. The friends I traveled with had decided to leave at 11:30 "regardless." That was exactly when the "hespedim" ended, so we didn't see the burial. I understand that it was in the new "vault" section.
All the hespedim were very special, rounding out more of the knowledge of RivkA I lack.
Obviously there's much more.


As one of the speakers said, I trust she's making a balagan up there. We need her energy in Olam Haba, since we in Olam Hazeh are failing.

Soon after RivkA's soul left her body, we received two calls to notify us.  One from Jameel and the other from someone I know in Eli who offered me a ride to the funeral as long as it wasn't going to be on Friday.   I asked if there would be room for a neighbor who knew RivkA from yet another part of her busy life, and then I notified the neighbor.  Later on we got word that it would be a 10pm Saturday night funeral.

Trust G-d to plan things well.  Earlier in the week I had been asked to host our neighborhood Shabbat Shiur Nashim, Women's Torah study class, so as soon as I heard of RivkA's death it was obvious that the learning would be in her memory, לעילוי נשמת l'ilui nishmata, to elevate her soul.  The neighbor who gave the class did his best to connect our RivkA with the Biblical one according to my description of her.

I title this: חסד של אמת Chessed Shel Emet, Charity/Kindness to the Dead, because it's considered the greatest level of giving. That's because the dead can't repay you.  Whenever I see the word אמת emet, true, in this context, I see it with an added "vov," making it אמות amoot, "I will die."  We will all die at one time. That's the truth and the only absolute.  The mitzvah of חסד של אמת Chessed Shel Emet, Charity/Kindness to the Dead is a vital chain which we must never break.


RivkA, ZaTza"L, as young as she was, knew that her life would probably be much shorter than the ideal 120 years, performed her חסד chessed charity/kindness with a zeal rarely seen.  Her blog gave strength and inspiration to others.  Her family, Moshe, the children, her parents, siblings etc and f2f friends have volumes of stories to tell about all the wonderful things she accomplished in her much too short life.  RivkA wasn't out there to get paid.  She lived as fully as possible doing חסד chessed charity/kindness, because it must be done before one dies.

I stood inside the בית הספדים  Beit Hespedim Eulogy Building.  I was almost touching distance to her covered body.  For those who have never been to or seen an Israeli Jewish funeral, you should know that according to Jewish Law there is no coffin.  We are buried wrapped in cloth so that our bodies can return to nature as quickly as possible.  The body is carried on a stretcher which is held by male family members and close friends.  The Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, בית הספדים Beit Hespedim Eulogy Building has a small closed off room at the front where the family members can depart from the dead in private. 

When they were ready, Moshe and their son (with others holding the sides and back of the stretcher) led her out and gently placed her on the platform.  Then various men and women were called to say their parting words. It built up, each one added various perspectives on RivkA.  Finally the family, her father, brother and Moshe all spoke.

A few people recorded it, and I trust that Jameel will get the recordings posted on her blog and possibly facebook, too.  I don't trust myself to summarize what was said.  Most of the people spoke in English.  I'm sure there will be some translation of the Hebrew hespedim, eulogies.

HaMakom y'nachem...
May G-d comfort the mourners...

12 comments:

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I had all the eulogies video recorded ... we hope to post them in the coming days.

Batya said...

Jameel, thanks, there's no Havel Havelim this week. I'm really upset about it. Bli neder, let's see what I can do.

Leora said...

Thank you for sharing, Batya.

Batya said...

Thanks, Leora
It was very restrained; people were so sad.

rutimizrachi said...

I am glad we were there together, even though we couldn't find each other in the sea of sorrowful friends and family. Thank you for encouraging us all to post our feelings, Batya. May we share smachot.

Batya said...

Ruti, the funeral was for RivkA. We must get together another time.

rutimizrachi said...

Yes, that may be... But I believe the funeral is also for her family and for us. Didn't we learn amazing things about our friend, that we had not known before? And there was comfort for those of us who mourn in knowing that she was beloved by so many. I hope that what she saw and heard there comforted her neshama.

And we'll STILL get together -- with RivkA's smile in mind.

Batya said...

so true, we get comfort, but she's the focus
At Shiloh funerals you really hear that the maspidim are addressing the dead. Sometimes it's like we're overhearing private conversations. Moshe started getting into that. Shiloh funerals generally have the hespedim at the grave; it's different.

rutimizrachi said...

I have only been to one other funeral in Israel. It was for a Sephardi soldier. It was at the grave -- and his family made everyone there feel as if we were sharing that private conversation. It was amazing to be permitted to be part of it. When I think of soldiers who fall in battle -- we should never hear about it again, please G-d -- I cannot help but hear that mama's cries...

Batya said...

I can't count the number of funerals I've been to here. I prefer them to the American ones, especially the Shiloh ones. We can't bring people back to life, so at least the funeral should bring some comfort/control to the mourning family.

goyisherebbe said...

My one meeting with RivkA in person was at the JBloggers' Conference. I was impressed with her courage and love which all reciprocated. An awful lot of us had her on their prayer lists. She will be missed by all.

Batya said...

amen, it would be good to have a jblog gathering...