Shiva Day 3

  • Shacharis was fine. The minyon was “strong” (i.e. there were more than 10 men there), but I felt a bit weak (physically). Shiva is exhausting. And sitting on a low chair is also physically difficult.
  • MES’s yeshiva buddies made breakfast for Nechemiah and MES. Still no butter to be found in the country (one boy ran to the grocery store to check again).
  • The morning was very quiet. Spencer came by, and we shmoozed. He had a brilliant theory for the timing of both the finalization of the divorce and the death of Yitzchak Meir: Time to move on. YMS left (or was taken away) so that I could start a new life without the “burden” of my ex-wife or my disabled son. I liked hearing that. The thought of starting a new life last week was a bit scary, but now it is as if my son said “Dad, I’ve done my job here, and I am going to step aside to let you get on with your life. Go, dad! Go out and get married again and continue building your family! I am rooting for you!” I thought about going on a trip to the USA after Chanukah (I end Shloshim during Chanukah). That might be a good break.
  • Rabbi Yehoshua Ratner came. He had lost his son several years ago, and I told him the story I heard at Machon Daniel by Rabbi Gurwitz (the first story or class I heard at the kollel) about Rabbi Mendel Weinbach (of Ohr Somayach) and how his son was almost burned to death, and after a year of rehabilitation, he was run over and killed by a car while riding a bicycle. During the shiva, another Rav approached him and said “welcome to the club” – the club of parents that have lost a child. I almost cried as I said this over, as I was sitting next to another man who had also lost a son – but his son was a “normal” son that was living in the home for several years and then suddenly died. I could not imagine such a test. But then he said to me how my test was so difficult. That’s how it goes.
  • The boys were out from 10am to noon, paying a shiva call at their mother’s apartment.
  • Mincha was very strong. Shiur Aleph from Mordechai’s yeshiva came, and so we had about 20 or more people.
  • Mordechai called the bagel store and ordered a bagel platter (bagels, cream cheese, lox spread) courtesy of Uncle Cliffy. We’ll get it tomorrow morning immediately after shacharis.
  • Rabbi and Mrs. Geffen came and stayed until 2pm. We looked at old pictures of trips we took together 17 years ago with the Ohr Somayach yeshiva. Dr. Yamin Cohen was there, too, and we discussed YMS’s medical condition, and how his brain disappeared, yet his brain stem continued to control his breathing, and what that might mean. I was invited to the Geffen’s and I hope to go some Shabbos in the near future.
  • David Morris & Avrohom Leventhal (both of the charity organization Lemaan Achai) paid a visit.
  • Libby Kislin, formerly the bookkeeper of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, and  a client of mine when I worked for ESF, called from NJ (she has said in the past how she would also call me up to say “Larry help me!” and I would patiently get her out of the mess).
  • David Kallus, of the Vasikin minyon came by. He only arrived this morning from the USA (he often makes trips to the USA for his medical practice). As I spoke, I mentioned the “timing” idea that Spencer had thought of. He didn’t realize that I was divorced, and said that because no one speaks during the prayer service, no one gets to know the other person (we had been davening for almost 15 months and he never knew). He also realized that the brownies that I brought each week were baked by me, and not by my wife. We also discussed moving one’s place in shul. The custom is to move to a different place in the shul, but the Tzitz Eliezer is lenient, and allows someone to keep his place where he stands.
  • Maariv was amazingly strong. We must have had 20 men in the home. Danny Wajnblum, Leron Genstil, Shmuel Bisk (he also came to the funeral, and I told him how I was saddened that I could not speak with the people at the funeral to even thank them for coming), Reuven Solomon, Aryeh Sonnenberg, and many others. I felt the strength of the men behind me as I lead them in Maariv.
  • Afterwards, many of them stayed, but it was harder to talk to so many people at once.
  • Dinner was provided by the Kaplan family: Spaghetti and Meatballs, garlic bread and carrot soup.
  • Rabbi Yaakov Montrose came with Dovid Fox.
  • Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair arrived just before 10pm. His sister has been in a coma for five years. The doctors have declared her brain dead, and have given up hope. Rabbi Sinclair said that the torah has two verses that speak about healing. One is where G-d says that “I am your healer”. The other is “he will surely heal” which is the verse that permits doctors to heal patients. But without that verse, doctors would not be allowed to heal. HOWEVER, no where in the Torah are doctors granted permission to “give up hope!” If someone is sick, so then they heal the sick person. If they can’t, so they should admit that “I am unable to heal this person at this time.” Giving up, is not an option – that is for G-d to decide if hope is lost or not – and usually it isn’t.
  • Rabbi Daniel and Mrs. Simon arrived around 10:30pm. I realized I had a picture of Rabbi Simon and Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair together, and immediately showed them the picture from Nechemiah’s bris, which had Rabbi Simon as the mohel, and Rabbi Sinclair holding Nechemiah for the naming. Then I showed Nechemiah the picture of him at the bris, and said Nechemiah, here is you, and you see this man with the knife in his hand – that is Rabbi Simon, the man sitting in front of you right now. Rabbi Simon said that very few people know who their mohel was (MOM: who was my mohel??). At the end, we spoke about Kayla Esther, and the problems I saw she was facing, which were exacerbated by the fact that she is the only “normal” girl in her school. The bottom line is that I have to continue to love her and maintain the connection. If a person has a good relationship with their father (on Earth), then they will also have a good relationship with their Father (in Heaven).
  • At 11pm everyone left. Exhaustion is setting in. But I am on a high because I saw so many good people today.

Blessed is G-d the True Judge

I buried my son Yitzchak Meir today.

It is almost 2 in the morning now. I have had a full day, starting when I woke up around 5:30 for davening. I am also writing this from the floor, as I am in mourning now, and can’t sit on a chair.

I got the kids out of the house with the problems I described in a previous post. I went to my shiur, but at 10:15, I got a call from the hospital, asking me to come right now for a meeting with the doctors. I dropped everything, and got to the hospital by 11:30. The doctors explained that his condition was deteriorating, and they were doing everything they could to save him, but his insides were all contorted, and that was the cause of the numerous infections. I thanked them for their work, and gave over the court papers which gave me full custody. Then I sat with Yitzchak Meir. I read psalms with him like I usually do. I think I must have read for about 30 minutes, which is longer than I am usually there. Then for another five minutes I just sat with him, in what turned out to be the final goodbye. I told him I would see him later in the week, but something told me that it might not happen. Then I saw a tear in his left eye. He was crying. I wiped his tears – I have never done that before – kissed him, and said shalom.

While I was in Jerusalem, I tried to stop at a few places. The first stop at the pet store didn’t work out – they closed down. I then davened mincha at Zichron Moshe. At Brookly, I bought some donuts for the kids for Rosh Chodesh. And then got a slice of pizza for my lunch, which I ate on the bus going home.

I tried to do some work, which included setting up this blog, then fell asleep on my bed for a few minutes due to exhaustion. I was woken up by the phone around 4:20 – it was Herzog hospital again. They wanted me to come right away, and they wouldn’t tell me why. I then suspected the worst and made some preparations. I got two books on mourning and put them in my bag. Then I switched to an old black jacket that I don’t wear any longer, as I expected them to tear the jacket at some point. I took MES’s phone and went to the yeshiva, gave him the phone, and told him that I was going to Jerusalem again.

I phoned many people on the bus. I couldn’t get through to Rav Rubanowitz, though, as he left his phone home today! MES decided to leave school and went to watch his siblings, as his mother also left, and then he took them home as it was easier to watch them there. On the bus journey, the driver took on  a passenger at Harel, which he is not allowed to do, so I decided to ask him if he would drop me off next to the traffic light. He and this passenger sort of laughed at me, even though i explained it was an emergency, and potentially the funeral of my son. So I got off at the regular stop and walked quickly to the hospital. My ex-wife called twice while I was walking, but I did not want to talk to her – if YMS was not alive, I did not want to hear it from her. When I got there, I saw the “warning to kohenim” sign in front of the hospital, and I knew what that meant – there was a dead body inside, and it was probably my son. I went to his room. It was quiet. All the machines were gone. He was lying in he bed, covered up. The nurses came in, and asked me to identify the body, which I did – I was overcome by emotions for a moment. Then came the calls. I called my mom. Rabbi Geffen, My son, Rabbi Montrose, Dan Kaufman. I spent more time trying to contact Rav Rubanowitz and finally got through – he made it over by 6:40. The hospital staff was starting to get ancy – they wanted the body out of the room as quickly as possible. We started making calls, and we started with kentridge, who was in the business. He passed the job on to someone else in Jerusalem, who hooked us up with the “hassidim” hevra kadisha.They eventually came, and we took the body out. I said goodbye and thank you to the few remaining nurses (it was already late). On the main floor, the guards wouldn’t let us out, and said we had to go downstairs and out a different entrance. While that in fact might have been the rule, we were only 40 feet from the door, and the place was otherwise empty. They started to get very angry, and were even trying to block us from carrying the body out. But a male nurse came by and said that we should be able to leave. That distracted them enough that we were able to dash out the front door and into the waiting van.

There is more to write, but it is after 2am, and I don’t have the strength. I will try to write more tomorrow.