It’s the tragedy of loss of life that prompts us to ponder its meaning. Why are we here, what can we accomplish, what is our mission? As we rush through our days, we seem to focus on the immediate, the problem at work, something our spouse wants us to do, the game on Sunday. Standing at the graveside after the tragic passing of Dr. Ron Gilbert, these questions ran through my mind. His life was snatched away. In the wake of this evil act, a grieving family, friends and associates gathered. And for all of us, there is the big question of why.
Dr. Ron Gilbert exemplified a rare balance: a life enriched by values, spirituality and success. On the day that he met his heartbreaking fate, he stood with his community at the morning minyan at Chabad in Huntington Beach. He wasn’t there because he had a special occasion like saying Kaddish. This was how he started every day, with a recognition of G-d above, an understanding that a life uplifted with spiritual purpose has greater meaning and, most important, the very focus of what it means to be a Jew. At the core of Judaism is the connection between Creator and Creation. Prayer, the commandments and the learning of Torah are the strands of the rope that bind these together. Sadly, many Jews rush through life with the threads loosely connected. At times for the High Holy Days or a family Bar Mitzvah, they become stronger, but much of time they are not connected strongly. For Ron his Judaism was the very core of his being; he was always connected. Torah animated his commitment for family and the support of his community. It inspired his professional life of caring for others.
Ron Gilbert is a role model to all of us on how to balance the various identities that tug at us in different directions. In his life his Judaism was not divorced from his professional endeavors; it was all one parcel. His study of Torah emboldened his compassion; his daily prayers connected him to his spiritual core. He instilled in his children a love of Torah learning.
We have no answers behind the riddle of this tragic loss. Nor do we understand the mystery that surrounds all of our lives. The question is, how do we live our lives? Do we attempt to just to pass through the time allotted to us in this world? Or do we seek a life full of meaning and purpose? Do we view the events in our day as arbitrary, or do we understand that nothing is random, every moment has purpose, that we are on a mission to uplift others and ourselves?
Dr. Ron Gilbert achieved that rare synergy between this world and the next. He infused meaning and G-dliness into everything his did — from the morning prayers to the afternoon rounds in the hospital. Every day was enriched with the study of Torah, , the observance of mitzvahs, the love for his wife and children and joy as they too studied the Torah.
Our greatest tribute would be to exemplify this rare balance of devotion and deed. The most fitting memorial to Dr. Ron Gilbert is to infuse our own lives with the passion he felt for his traditions, his family, others and the Jewish people. Let us all ponder this profound loss with an eye to what we can do to make the relationships we have with our family more imbued with love and compassion, to spend a few moments in prayer and contemplation, to challenge ourselves intellectually with the study of Torah, to do a mitzvah to help another and draw ourselves closer to G-d. Let us all seek to synergize our lives with purpose and meaning as Ron did so well. Α