The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 24 December 2011 / 27 Kislev 5772

A Monument to Caring

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"I feel so terrible that I can’t sleep at night," cried the widow to Rabbi Aviezri Auerbach, the rav of the Jewish community in Halberstat, Germany. "Not only did I lose my husband but I couldn’t afford to put a marble monument on his grave and had to settle for a simple gravel one."

The rabbi thought for a moment how he could comfort this broken widow so upset at not having properly honored her husband. In a flash of inspiration he took a sheet of his rabbinical stationery and wrote on it a Will instructing his children to place on his own grave after his death a monument made of gravel and not of marble. He then read this document to the heartsick widow and thus assured her that her husband’s memory would suffer no dishonor.

The rabbi’s instructions were faithfully followed when he passed away. When the residents of the city, Jews and non-Jews alike, expressed wonder at seeing such a simple monument atop the grave of such an illustrious spiritual leader, they learned what a Torah leader was ready to do to comfort a widow.

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