Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Truths My Father Told Me

Today, the 30th of Shevat, is the yahrzeit of my father, Rabbi Azriel Rosenfeld Z'L. Monday would have been his 76th birthday on the secular calendar, and the following day, the same on the Jewish calendar. My dad's yahrzeit and birthdays will invariably fall close together, as his passing, three years ago today, took place right in between his English and Hebrew birthdays. At the time, amidst my grief, I couldn't help being struck by this confluence, and its significance in light of my father's lifetime devotion to both science and Torah.

I still miss my dad so much. Aaron's death has done nothing to diminish that special, separate sense of loss, any more than having a leg amputated would make a broken arm less painful. Not a week goes by that I don't come across some fact, dvar torah, image, or joke that I wish I could share with my father, knowing that he would uniquely appreciate it. Just a few days ago, when posting a neat illusion I discovered, my first thought was "gee, dad would really get a kick out of this!"

Last year at this time, I shared my memories and feelings about my father's life and about his final illness. This year, I'd like to mention a few of the lessons he taught me, by word and, especially, by example. To share even half of the facts and knowledge I learned from my dad, both Jewish and secular, would probably tax the space limits of blogger. But in brief and concentrated form - as he would have liked it - here are some of the principles, the core truths, by which he lead his life:
  • Whatever you set out to accomplish, do so to the utmost degree, both in intensity and in precision. Those familiar with the length, breadth, and depth of my father’s expertise and accomplishments in numerous fields, both Jewish and secular, and anyone who has ever had the pleasure of hearing his flawless, exquisite Torah reading, know whereof I speak.
  • Never waste any time, whether your own or someone else's. To my father, the greatest sin was to keep someone waiting, and the greatest torture was to be kept waiting himself without a book or sefer at hand to study.
  • Show the world who you really are, warts and all. Pretense and deception are not to be tolerated. Your accomplishments should speak for themselves, and as for your flaws, who cares what anyone else thinks??
  • Never take another's place - make one for yourself. My father was extremely careful about this principle, especially in shul. On the rare occasions when he was forced to be in an unfamiliar shul,he would daven standing in the back rather than run the slightest risk of taking someone else's makom kavua [fixed place for prayer].
  • Puns are the highest form of humor (sarcasm is a close second). Leave no conversational stone unturned in pursuit of a good pun.
  • Never stop learning. Not for a minute, not for any occasion, not for any excuse. Learning is life, and life is learning.
To conclude as I did last year: may the soul of my father, Harav Azriel Yitzchak Ben Harav Avraham Tzvi, be intertwined in the bundle of life, and may he be a heavenly advocate for those he has left behind... and for one very special young man who has joined him in the next world.


At 2/18/07, 1:00 AM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Elie, may your father's neshama have an aliyah. No doubt he was a special person who imparted these wonderful wisdoms on you via his words or actions. This, and the family name, are the greatest "yerusha" he could have given you.

At 2/18/07, 12:18 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

He sounds like quite a man. I say sounds because it is clear that even though he is not here he lives on in his family.

At 2/18/07, 9:58 PM, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Elie,

A beautiful tribute!

Alan D. Busch

At 2/19/07, 3:31 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

A very nice post about your father, may his neshamah have an aliyah.

At 2/19/07, 6:44 PM, Blogger Tova said...

Thank you for these beautiful words about Dad. May the family be comforted and know no more tzaar.

At 2/20/07, 6:48 PM, Blogger RaggedyMom said...

Apparently, he left you with a wealth of values and principles. The neshama should have an aliya.

At 2/21/07, 4:12 PM, Blogger trn said...

Though my situation differs from yours, the manifestations of grief that you describe are achingly familiar to me.

I've long thought that a deceased father who taught his children how to lead their lives such as it seems your father did most excellently with you continues to be present for his children long after his own death. Even many living parents are not there to help and guide their children in the way in which your father continues to be there for you.

Thank you for sharing your father's truths with us. May we all recognize such imparted lessons.


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