ALL IN A WORD
Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
Shloshim, a moment of time that awakens new levels of bereavement. I write, no, rather I stare at a screen, which awaits my bringing to life dormant words that are buried in my soul. I don’t want my column to become a screed of pain, I don’t want to project my loss upon others, as I have always sought to be upbeat on these pages. I am a wordsmith, someone who uses language to get ideas and views across to readers, yet I find myself stumbling, living in a dull haze whilst trying to do my best for my community.
I want to share some words from my daughter Chani Schriebhand that she wrote today, they go a long way to describe what we are all feeling.
‘The Meaning of Grief’
‘Grief’ is used in so many different contexts, yet in the dictionary its meaning is clear: “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.”
These past few weeks have taught me that this word which is used in many different circumstances doesn’t convey the deep loss it is meant to. It’s not that I walk around crying all day, it’s not that I am in a haze, and it’s certainly not that I am in a dark room mourning.
It’s the little moments in the day that this deep sadness comes over me. When I wake up after 2 hours sleep, and all I want to do is call my mom. It’s, when I push myself out of bed and want to share with her the fact that I pushed myself to get out of bed, as only she would appreciate this. It’s when I see a funny joke, and I know she would get it. It’s when someone tells me something that I know she would love to hear. It’s when I go to her house and a dish is not in its place. Or when I see how much my father is missing her company.
Yes I miss her cooking. But my grief is so much deeper than this. My husband tells me, ‘let yourself cry let it out, I’m here for you.’ But if I let it out I’m scared that I will never stop and I will become ill. As the tears that are lurking behind my facade, are like a deep well whose source is never ending.
I know we are all grieving each in our own way, with our own memories and our own feelings, yet this in itself makes it even harder.
I know my father is trying to keep us altogether, so he makes sure to keep control. Yet I see his pain in every move and the look he gives. My brother Rav Moshe Rubin of Glasgow, keeps his strength by talking about the future, which is his way of coping.
Our children, try to be there for us, yet I think this must be scary to them, as they realise we are not invincible, they are also contending with their own feelings of loss, seeing their parent so lost and sad must be unsettling to them.
Our Grandkids are also feeling the deep loss, and we are the ones who need to give them comfort and hope for the future.
So I ask you is ‘grief’ the word for what I am feeling? Not when you can use it in a sentence like the following: When she saw that the milk spilt on the floor, she cried out “good grief!” So you find a word for me to express what I’m feeling inside, as I most certainly can’t.”
I think my daughters words touch on the void the family feels on our great loss.
Allow me to share an episode that happened whilst we still lived in South Manchester. One of our congregants fell ill and was bed ridden at home. She was a chirpy soul, Irish if I remember, with an accent that rivalled even mine in its cute misunderstanding. We came to visit only to find a chaotic shambles. The woman was lying in bed shivering, almost delirious. The Rebbetzin went into her command mode, “where is a hot water bottle? She is freezing and needs warmth!” Her clueless husband shrugged, “I don’t know where we keep it”, “Go next door and borrow one, NOW!” When the Rebbetzin took charge there was no questioning, her passionate love for yiddisher neshamos took no prisoners. “Ok, we need to get her warmed, and with this, the Rebbetzin got into the bed, cradled the shivering patient and rocked her till she fell asleep.
There are so many broken Yidden in the world, so many shivering souls. The Rebbetzin is no longer here to bring her special warmth, so we need to undertake filling the void she left behind. Her sudden petira left us no time to gather any reserves, she was in the full flow of her giving life, and in mid-sentence just left.
Shloshim, thirty days, barely a blink in time, yet we call on those who were blessed to know Rebbetzin Chaya Soroh bas Harav Shlomo Yechiel HaCohen Z”L to help us keep the flow of her illumination flowing by seeking out our broken brethren and offer them hope, kindness, and spiritual warmth.
Watch a recording of the Rov Shlita’s speech at the Shloshim.