I will miss you Sam Fisher, perspectives on Orlando, and Jewish Wisdom for Hard Times…
After every Shabbas or extended time away from the news I always tune back in with reluctance. For years, the notion that there could have been an attack of some kind is always prevalent in my mind. We have seen it so many times before. We awake to horrors and the aftermath changes so many lives forever.
This week, we unfortunately shared a national tragedy with the shooting of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a radical Jihadi terrorist attack against America and American values that strikes and affects us all.
The details that have emerged are horrifying. We do not need the reminder, but we know these things could easily happen everywhere and strike at anytime. We must cherish our lives, make every moment count, and be vigilant and prepared…
We send comfort to the mourners and strength to those healing.
As the news piled in I noticed another story, this one closer to home. Sam Fisher, z”l, a standout student from Newton, MA had tragically collapsed after completing a charity triathlon. Sam was a student at Harvard and an AEPi brother. I knew him and his friends and am deeply touched and saddened by his loss.
I first met Sam when he was a student at the Maimonides school. I was asked to guest lecture his senior class. As is often the case, he and his classmates were struggling with their sense of identity and understanding of Judaism’s perspectives. I gave a short series of classes over a couple of weeks. Once gone I forgot about it wondering if my talks had an impact.
Years later Sam attended one of my Shabbas dinners for Harvard AEPi brothers. He reminded me of the talks and apologized for not taking it so seriously. Then he told me that even though he didn’t know it at the time, the talk spurred him to connect with Judaism while in college and that it actually informed his decision to join AEPi and stay close to the Jewish community.
Sam was a major leader on campus and had a bright future. His connection to his AEPi brothers was deep and he was known to be a welcoming force and a great friend. Later today I will stand with his family and friends to comfort them at this time of profound loss.
I want to wish a blessing to his family that they find the strength to carry on his legacy. May they be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Feeling Our Brothers Pain:
Judaism teaches that there are 48 ways to wisdom. Master the 48 ways and our lives will be infused with wisdom and holiness. Amongst them is to share the pain of our brethren.
We should be there for those who need us when they need us. We should care as much about them as we do ourselves. We should be the shoulder for them to cry on as we cry on theirs. We should give support in every way possible and find ways to be there for them. We should pray for their sick as if they are our own, and we should mourn losses personally.
It is said that the Jewish people are eternally spiritually linked, therefore we are one. We must take care of each other as it is the same as taking care of ourselves. In fact, we are not complete until we act at this level of existence. Great unity comes from great tragedy, and that is where we find ourselves today.
May we all come together to feel the pain, to mourn, and to unite.