Today, I learn how to sit again. For the last eleven months, I have recited the mourner’s kaddish to honor the memory of my brother, Eyal, of blessed memory. I stood at attention each morning, uttering these sacred words in the Sinai Temple minyan, magnifying and sanctifying God’s Holy name, still in mourning and grief. I learned three lessons as a mourner who stands publicly to acknowledge a loss. You are noticed. You are held. You are comforted.
My daughter reminded me several weeks ago, “Abba, you are good at praying the kaddish.” Yet, as the days of kaddish dwindled, I asked myself, “Now what?” How can I sit again when my loss is eternal and present? Am I not ready to stop?
My answers came this morning, as my family unveiled Eyal’s tombstone. The epitaph reads, zachreinu lchayim, we should be remembered for life. While we say these words on the holiest days of the year, in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we live out their meaning each and every day of our lives. For memory is not only to carry us back to the past, but it ought to transport us to the future as well.
The moments literally appear before my eyes. Each Friday night, I see Eyal reciting the kiddush at our dinner table, mouthing words with his silent voice. I feel his presence as I wrap his tallit around my shoulders and place his kippah on my head. I sense his creativity as I look at my office walls adorned by the artwork he painted painstakingly with his mouth. I seek his wisdom when I compose a piece of Torah. Each one of these small moments is a zachreinu event, an opportunity to share Eyal’s story, to inspire my community, to remember a life well lived.
My father, Rabbi Charles Sherman, in his book, The Broken And The Whole: Discovering Joy After Heartbreak, writes of the power of faith.
Ani maamin beemunah shleima—“I believe in the coming of the mashiach….
The teaching continues, vaf al pi sheyitmameah, even though he may be delayed… I still believe. As I now sit down and cease saying the mourner’s kaddish, I will forever live in the moment of af al pi, even though. Even though I cannot hug my brother and I cannot kiss him, I am certain that he will be remembered for the unbelievable life he led and the life he allows us to live today.
Zachreinu lchayim tovim—May the life of my brother, my best friend, my hero, Eyal Sherman, continue to bless us in the days ahead.