In this past weeks parasha, Noach, we learn that g-d decided to plague the earth with a flood to wipe all the evil that humanity has formed. Noach was given his prophecy to build the ark with notice of 70 days in advance.
In a commentary made by the Siftei Chachamim he comments on the prophecy that Everybody knew a flood was bound to happen as Rashi previously comments in Bereshit in relation to Cain’s son Lamech. If everyone knew the flood was to happen why weren’t they prepared or why didn’t they try to repent and reconcile with g-d?
In the book – the denial of death by Ernest becker he mentions that when we let our mortality overwhelm us, we can end up with one of two responses: we can shut down or we can manically search for paths to immortality.
Knowing the punishment of g-d from generations previously, Noach used the opportunity to repent to save a punishment lifted from previous generations. The rest feared death and continued their unethical ways. Noach was busy spending days to build an ark, and bypassers were probably looking at him saying – “who is this fool trying to escape our punishment”
Noah would not let death fear and overwhelm him. Rather he took every opportunity at hand to extend his life and life experiences.
My Zayde and his family saw a flood coming first hand. As the Nazi floodgates opened, a swarm of our people were taken. My Zayde and his family were not going to let the fear of death overwhelm. They saw an opportunity to build their ark to escape the nazi flood every point of the way. Their ark led them to the US, to meet my bubbe, and to have many generations of children including his newest great grandson ironically named Noach born this past week
My zayde would always try to redefine his goals. First its to escape the war. Second is to become educated in the states. Third to meet his wife. And so on…
But in the last few years it became clear that his goal was to strive for immortality and to be able to learn and experience as much as life offer just like Noah. If you went into his bedroom you’ll find all these devices in attempt for longevity of life. Zayde was a man on a mission till his very last breath and beyond.
through his building of the ark and success of survival, he experienced so much to share to the world.
Thankfully sometime last year, Rachel, my mom, her mom, and my sister in laws family pushed my zayde to share his survival story as a part of Yeshiva’s documentary called Names not numbers. Zayde was wary to share his story at first and have his story documented to the masses, but as soon as he did it you can feel the sense of relief and sense of internal pride as students of the Yeshiva swarmed him just to get a chance to speak to him face to face.
My zayde has a library of lessons and stories through his studies, professional experience, and postwar life experiences.
Throughout college, I had the opportunity to live only a few blocks down from my grandparents. I’d go to the park and Zayde and I would sit down and i’d just be a student of him for hours. He would advise me and direct me while I forge my own path through life. Zayde also had an incredible bond with my wife rachel and her family. Anytime Rachel and Zayde were around eachother they would sit for hours and enjoy eachothers presence. zayde and my bubbe was more than a grandfather to Rachel and I. He was a mentor, a guide but most importantly our best friend. He set the precedent for our family and generation to follow.
Zayde, your life has inspired us all. Everything you’ve taught us through our upbringing has a lasting impact not only on your family, but everyone you made contact with throughout your years. You sparked smiles when smiles were needed. You provided inspiration when we lacked clarity. Most importantly, you were the greatest friend I could ever ask for.
Zayde, I love you. you will forever be missed but we promise we will continue to take care and be here for bubbie as you were here for her and continue to build a bait Neman by Israel so your legacy will forever live on for generations to come. Baruch Dayan HaEmet