The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five Years

Tonight marks my father's 5th yahrtzeit. It is very hard to believe that so much time has passed since he left this world.

The older I get the more I recognize how much my father influenced me and how many of his characteristics I have. He was always in a hurry. I am always in a hurry. He had little patience for shtick. I have little patience for shtick. He walked fast. I walk fast. And so on.

On Friday, while driving to Baltimore to see OOD and THG, I drove about 75 miles while moderately uncomfortable because I really could have used a pit stop. My father in me made the decision whether to stop a tortuous one. Stopping would set me back from reaching my destination by 15 minutes. On the other hand, I was getting increasingly more uncomfortable. (The fact that, even had we stopped, we would still have had plenty of time before Shabbos, like more than two hours, was not a factor in my decision. Stopping on the road unless absolutely necessary is simply not done). Finally, after thinking about it for more than an hour, I actually laughed, turned to MHW and said, "I'm really insane." We stopped at the last rest stop in New Jersey.

Other than inheriting some of my father's mishagas, I know that I have not measured up to him in many other ways. He was a very good man. A man of principle, a man without shtick, utterly devoid of pretense or guile. He was an incredibly hard worker who felt an absolute responsibility to provide for his family. (If he knew how many Jewish families were, more or less by choice, on welfare or using food stamps, he would be spinning in his grave). I don't think a day passed when he didn't think that he was the luckiest man in the world to have married my mom. He was totally devoted to her. I am lucky to have had him as my dad.

This is some of what I said at the levayah:

It is customary to refer to your father as Avi, Mori; my father, my teacher. That, indeed, was the essence of what my dad was.

He taught us both concrete things and abstract concepts. He taught us to throw a softball and he taught us to be erliche Yiddin. He taught us a love of baseball and he taught us to be menches. He taught us the importance of being physically fit and he taught us the importance of being real. He taught us to swim and he taught us the power of music. He taught us the importance of a smile and a good word. He taught us about the sweetness of Shabbos. He taught us z'miros in three-part harmony. He taught us that it was more important to get out of the Shea Stadium parking lot quickly than whether or not the Mets won. He taught us that if you walk at a fast pace you get to where you are going more quickly. He taught us to give tzedakah in a tzniusdik way. He taught us the importance of being oskai Tzorchei Tzibur B’Emunah. He taught us the importance of being on time, especially for appointments with the Ribbono Shel Olam. He taught that it was not beneath his sons or grandsons to do the laundry, clear off the table or wash the pots. He taught us a love for Eretz Yisrael [and, I should have also said, Medinat Yisrael]. He taught us never, ever, to raise our voices, especially to our loved ones. He taught us how much a person can overcome in life just by force of will and determination.

And, he taught us all this without ever darshaning or giving mussar. Indeed, he taught us all this by hardly saying a word. He taught us all this simply by the way he conducted himself. He understood on a very simple level that he was a Ben Melech, a child of the King, and conducted himself accordingly.

My father was a very special man and we will miss him dearly. I take comfort from the pasuk in Tehillim that I was reading last Sunday night when we thought he was about to leave us. Yodai’ah Hashem Yimai Timmim, V’nachalasam L’Olam Tihiyeh. “Hashem recognizes the days of the righteous and their inheritance will be forever.” The Even Ezra says that nachalasam, the inheritance of the righteous, refers to their children and grandchildren through the generations. The Radak says that nachalasam refers to their olam habah.

May Hashem grant my father the olam habah that he so richly deserves and may he be a meilitz yasher for all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and all the generations to come.

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  • At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May his neshama have an aliya

  • At 6:22 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said…

    יהי זכרו ברוך

  • At 4:31 PM, Blogger Neil Harris said…

    May his neshama have an aliya and may the mitzvos your family does continue to shine.

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