The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Letters With Out Thoughts

I last saw Rabbi Levitansky standing on the street as I walked to the bank . . .
He smiled at me and nodded his head; normally so exuberant and strong, at the time he seemed so fragile.

On Sunday in Tuscon, shortly before davening, P. walked over to me,
"Rabbi Levitansky passed away."
He had read the news on his cell-phone -in this day of wireless communication information chases us wherever we go . . .

We had all known that the Rabbi had been sick, but this?
As the day progressed our journey home was filled with constant updates.
It all seemed so dry, so clinical: The Levayah (funeral) would be at such and such a time, so and so was coming in . . .

That night, despite exhaustion from the long trip, I was asked to help be one of the ten Shomrim (guarders of the deceased who recite psalms in an adjacent room) during the graveyard shift in the Chevrah Kaddisha. Actions, words, no thoughts . . . the mind skims over the facts at hand.

The next day at two a large crowd gathered outside of the Yeshivah to escort the deceased . . .

Dots . . . Letters of Thought . . .

We arrived at the Chabad cemetery, in the City of Commerce at four o'clock. The cemetery is narrow, flanked on the right by an industrial building, and the left an empty field and the Russian Molokan cemetery . . .

Palm trees line the long narrow path that splits the chelka in half. Bird chirps, the crowd begins to swell.

The hearse pulls up. I notice for the first time that it's a Cadillac . . . A morbid thought about going with style flashes through my mind.

The coffin is removed from the back, an anouncement is made -anyone who did not go to the mikvah that day should not go near it.

Slowly the aron makes its way through the crowd, bobbing like a boat adrift on a tumultuous sea . . .
Birds chirp, bugs hum, the sun shins brightly down on our heads.

Suddenly cries can be heard from the front of the crowd,
deep heavy breathing,
"Tatteh, Tatteh!"

Everything crystallizes . . .
The facts dissipate,
The dots congeal,
The letters form words.
Painful words.
No actions.
Too many thoughts.
Things are no longer dry . . .
Everything is wrong.
The sun is wrong,
The birds are wrong,
The hum of the bugs is wrong.
The sobbing goes on . . .

Now it has doubled.

I glance to see two of the Rabbi's sons embrace, their faces frighteningly white, their heads on each other's shoulders

Heavy breathing, sobs, groans, cries, shouts . . .

Everyone tries not to look; people study their shoes, gaze at the clouds, look stoically forward.
Someone in the crowd now breaks down in tears, he covers his face with his hands.
Finally the aron has been lowered into the ground.
The cries go on.
Shovels thud as earth is moved. Those in the front are sprinkled with a fine coat of red dust.
I'm pushed forward, a shovel falls in front of me. I pick it up.
Voices rise and fall as people jostle each other.
"The sons will now say Kaddish"
A hush falls on the crowd.
'Yisgadal v'Yiskadash shmei raba.
May his great name be glorified and sanctified . . .'

Rabbi Shusterman steps forward,
"Based on the emphatic wishes of the niftar there will be no eulogies. Isak, the oldest son will say what his father told him while he could still speak."

Isak steps forward,
"My father said that he forgave everyone with a full heart and asked that everyone do the same to him. He said that the Chabad mosdos (institutions) in Simcha Monica should be taken over by the sons, and grow b'yeser ses u'byeser oz."

His voice cracks . . .

Rabbi Shusterman calls out again,

"There will be minyonim in the house of the niftar at 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, and 9:30. That's eight minyonim, that's a lot to take care of! B'zchus hanifter we ask anyone who's able to come to please do so! M' zal trefen nar auf simchas!"

The sun continues to shine, there isn't a cloud in the sky.
The crowd parts to let the mourners pass through.

Hamakom yenachem eschem besoch shar aveilei tzion v'yerushaliem!

I leave the cemetery in a daze.
People mill about, visiting other loved ones buried here.
My friend's sister stands next to her husband, her head and arms draped on her father's headstone in silent introspection.

I wash my hands . . . The water flows down the sidewalk and onto the street snaking it's way into the gutter and off to sea.

All rivers flow to the sea.

L'ilui nishmas Harav Avraham ben Isak Halevi.

Er zal zayn a gutter better.

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Hirshel Tzig said...

what can I say?

Mottel said...

who says you have to say anything?

chanie said...

baruch dayan emet

Chaya said...

Borich dayan haemes

your description made me feel as if i was there
made me visualize the only funeral i've ever been too
so much pain
nicely written

Mottel said...

I'm glad you found what I wrote to be moving . . .
I was by the shiva house tonight, and people seemed to be in far better spirits.
How may I ask did you find this blog?

Chaya said...

yea its always harder on the family to accept it. i remember when my mother sat was fun in a twisted way...

your blog is (or maybe was?) listed on your profile. i think you once commented on a blog i've read...i've been reading yours for a've got some good stuff going on.

Lucky Wolf said...

Very moving article.

Which rabbi Shusterman, rabbi yossi or rabbi Gershon?

Mottel said...

Gershon is Schusterman

methinkitshislabshus said...

Brought tears to my eyes..
A whole year passed.

How many times can I tell you, that I like your write so well etc etc...

Mottel said...

Works for me . . . I'm honored that I have a secret admirer. There's three years worth of posts up here, something like 745 posts (and counting . . . in Poland there were times when I did two posts a day -minimum) If you ever get through it all, enjoy!

cantsettleonaname said...

Ha! Keep dreaming... I highly doubt I will have the patience....
I'm just picking randomly...

Mottel said...

an admirer of my writing -to make things. It makes great reading on 9 Av . . . You may miss the flow of things if it's too random.