Last week we had the privilege of hosting Simha and Leah Goldin, whose son Hadar was murdered in August 2014.
The family’s grief and loss is all the more painful because Hamas kidnapped Hadar’s body and continues to hold it captive, presumably as a bargaining chip for some future exchange of prisoners.
The Goldin family have experienced the unspeakable pain of not only losing a beloved son in war, but the additional agony of not being able to bury his body properly.
On Shabbat, Simha shared some thoughts with our congregation:
After the destruction of the second Temple, many Jews remained in the city of Beitar. The Romans killed them all, and were so angry that they refused to allow their bodies to be buried.
After some time, a new ruler was appointed who finally allowed the burial. In response, our sages instituted the blessing of “HaTov VeHameitiv,” thanking G-d for His goodness in allowing these Jews to be put to rest.
In Judaism, burial is so important that our sages actually instituted an entire blessing that we continue to say 2,000 years later!
Why is it so important to bury a body? Because the body comes from the dust, and that is where it needs to return in order to find eternal rest.
The mitzvah of burying a Jewish person is called “chesed shel emet” which means true kindness, because it can never be repaid. It is purely an act of benevolence to someone who has now moved on to the next world, and cannot in any way reciprocate the favor.
Surely, we too can all find ways to show kindness to others in lives without expecting any kind of reciprocity.
We hope and pray that Simha (which means happiness) and Leah Goldin will very soon be able to perform chesed shel emet for their son Hadar, and experience the small measure of comfort that having a grave to pray at will bring.
Then Simha and Leah will be able to make the blessing of HaTov VeHameitiv wholeheartedly, because G-d will have shown them this kindness.