The Other Side of the Story - The Funeral

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The Other Side of the Story - Giving People the Benefit of the Doubt

The Funeral

About five years ago my grandfather, Reb Dovid zatzal, passed away. Although I missed the funeral, as I was studying Torah in Eretz Yisrael, I was told the following story at the shiva (7 day mourning period): At the funeral, my grandfather's brother-in-law, a tremendously pious man, announced that the deceased specifically requested in his will that there should be short eulogies. He therefore urged all those delivering eulogies to make them as short as possible. Everyone adhered to the request and made their respective eulogies brief; everyone, that is, except for the brother-in-law himself! Between every eulogy, he spoke at length, ignoring his own plea to keep things short. The funeral ended up taking much longer than a normal funeral, and many people left murmuring against the brother-in-law for the chutzpah he had displayed: Not only did he not practice what he preached, but he also blatantly ignored the wishes of the deceased!

At the shiva, my father and uncle asked him to explain his behavior, knowing he must have had a good reason. His answer was astonishing: While the first eulogy was being deliv- ered - this was after he had made the announcement to keep things short - he, the brother-in-law, was told by the chevra kaddisha (burial society) that the caretakers of the cemetery take a lunch break between one o'clock and three o'clock in the afternoon. Being that the funeral had started close to noon, plus the fact that the cemetery was a 40 minute drive, it would have been impossible to make it there before one o'clock! The body would be waiting at the cemetery to be buried for an hour and a half. So, because of kavod hamait - respect due the deceased - he decided to lengthen the funeral as much as possible in order that the body not be in a state of disgrace! He felt that the kavod hamait was more important than what people would say about him!

(PS - They arrived at the cemetery just as the caretakers came back from their lunch break!)

(Submitted by Anonymous)

The Other Side of the Story Archives

Based on "The Other Side of the Story" by Mrs. Yehudis Samet, ArtScroll Series

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