Off the Pulpit: A Yizkor Message

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

On Yizkor we gather to remember the ones we miss. The ones who knew our world. The one who grasped the corkscrew twists special to your own soul.

What we miss, and what we crave, is the intimacy that assures you in a world that spins no matter your wishes, that drives on heedless of your hopes, you are not alone.

That person – parents, spouse, sibling, friend, lover – to whom you tossed your heart the way as children we played egg toss – catch this, but move with it and do not break it.

That person held your heart, cradled it in his or her hands. And is gone.

You cannot erase the pain. You cannot reverse the loss.

Instead you must carry them – memories – some robust and some fragile. Some that are clear and bright like summer suns. Others slight, glinting off your memory like a whispered prayer.

Half a heart is hidden away, broken and concealed like an afikomen, leaving us with the hope that one day, at the promised end, the hoped-for end, it will be reunited.

When we love the people we love, whether we lose them in life or lose them to death, there is a sense of a story unfinished, a chord as yet unplayed.

We carry all those disparate legacies inside ourselves. Like stones in a shepherd’s sling, we count each and every one.

At Yizkor we bless them for being a part of the stories not only that we tell, but the story that we are.

Even absent voices have an echo inside of us. And even when the person is no longer here, we know that love does not die.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple of Los Angeles.)

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