I received a call on Tuesday morning, telling me that a friend had passed away. The guy was about 50, and had been in good health, except that he had a "bit of flu" for the past few days. Monday evening, he went into the bathroom and never came out -- his teenage sons found him.
Something like this is a terrible shock to all, and brings with it a good deal of thought and self-evaluation.
First of all, the shock -- how does such a thing happen to a healthy man, not old, who lived a good and peaceful life? Why would God take him? He has four children, aged 17 - 7...why would God take their father from them?
And then, the self-evaluations, thoughts, internal dilemnas.
This was the first time that I had been to an Israeli funeral. At a funeral, the body is covered with a blanket and the man's tallis and laid on a table, and people circle him while the eulogies are given.
Several people spoke at this funeral, his son's teacher, a rabbi from a neighboring Hassidic shul where Mark sometimes prayed, the Rabbi of Tzfat, a friend, and his wife.
Each time, what was spoken of was Mark's ever-present smile, his determination to take care of his family with joy, his devotion to his Jewish studies and his committment to his community. It was a moving tribute to a simple man who will forever be remembered not for being famous or doing something noteworthy, but for bringing joy to the people around him.
It, of course, made me think of how I want to be remembered, and I hope that even in my present unclear circumstances -- will I soon be divorced? Will I be able to keep my house? -- I always continue to act in a manner which earns the respect of those around me.
Also, for the first time, I wondered about people who I know who have behaved dishonorably. What can one say when their time comes to lie on that table? That was very emotional for me, thinking about that question, yet it brought certain issues in my life to a point of closure.