PEOPLE PONDER THEIR lives, wondering what deeds over a lifetime truly represent their very essence. What achievement stands out? Much of our lives are filled with trying to make a living. We are constantly busy with our daily existence: a client who needs to be massaged, a product that did not get delivered on time, etc. Still, the question is what our legacy will be.
A dear friend of many years passed away after Passover. He was a Russian Jew who came to these shores at the age of 22, with just a few pennies in his pocket. He worked hard, took risks like leaving a job to build his own business, while raising a fine family, which he loved greatly. When his illness progressed, he came to see me one day in my office. He had been very generous in the past and this time he surprised me.
“I want to donate a Sefer Torah,” he told me. In Judaism, every Jew is instructed to “write a Torah scroll” at least once in their lifetime. You can learn the skill of a scribe and do it yourself, or you can underwrite the cost of a Torah Scroll. Another option is to purchase a letter in a Torah being written to fulfill the obligation of this special mitzvah.
My friend David wanted to memorialize his parents and his wife’s parents who were Jews that had survived the Holocaust and forged a new life in America. At times, people write Torah Scrolls after a loved one passes on. He was realizing that his life was at its sunset as he battled a serious illness and wanted to leave a permanent legacy in this world. One that would live on for generations to come.
Writing a Torah ties a Jew to the history of our people that reaches back to the dawn of Jewish history when 3,328 years ago the Torah was given on Mount Sinai. This month we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot that marks this momentous occasion. When the Divine Being transmitted to his creations his wisdom and knowledge. The Torah is the spiritual guidebook, G-d’s gift to mankind.
A short while later we celebrated the dedication of the new Torah. With pride we marched down the streets of Yorba Linda, with the Torah covered with a Chupah like a bride and groom. As we reached the synagogue, the existing scrolls were brought outside to welcome the new Torah. We danced and celebrated.
After Passover David Markowitz returned his soul to his maker. Still the Torah he wrote lives on, used on a regular basis in our community. However, I realized that the Torah scroll was not just a memorial to his loved ones that had passed away. It was a message to his family, children, grandchildren, and all of us, for it was for the next generation the Torah was written.
Rabbi David Eliezrie, is at Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen/Chabad, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.