In this week’s sedra, Hukkat, we read of the death of Aharon, Moshe’s brother. However, he was more than Moshe’s brother, he represented the religious leadership of the nation: the 1st Kohain HaGadol – High Priest, and was Moshe’s partner in leading the Israelites from slavery to freedom.
Like Moshe, Aharon was denied entry to the Promised Land. In this week’s reading, Aharon, Moshe & Eleazar, Aharon’s son, go off to a mountain top, where Moshe removes the vestments of the High Priest and places them upon Eleazar. And, then we are told that Aharon breathers his last and dies.
We are then told that the Israelites mourned Aharon’s death for 30 days before resuming their journey. After all, life must go on.
Allow me to stretch the concept, not in the case of a death, but I do sense that many of us here this erev Shabbat do feel a sense of mourning because a figure almost tantamount to haKohain haGadol will not be continuing the journey with us after this Shabbat.
Richy, I know you have emphatically made it clear that you did not want any farewell programs or ceremonies, or in the profound hurt that you must feel, to have to listen to laudatory speeches, effusive with platitudes – we have respected your decision. Indeed, the laudatory platitudes are evidenced by those simply sitting in the pews.
However, after 13 years of sharing this pulpit with you, I do have some personal words that I want to share.
You have been both an Ezer Tov and a chaver to me – a great help and a friend. I, too, will miss your beautiful voice, your profound knowledge of Judaica and sacred music, your warmth, your compassion, and your sense of humor, both the jokes I can repeat and those that I can’t.
I will miss the ability to count upon you and rely upon you whenever needed, and your advice and camaraderie.
And, of course, the beautiful soprano voice of your dear Andrea will be missed from our choir, and her talents in the temple kitchen. Plus, you know proud I am of Zoe our new USY president and the Ruah Committee Chair on the USY regional board!
Yes, that is what I feel in my heart. However, I also know that the only thing constant in life is change and life goes on, the journey must continue.
My prayer, my hope, my wish for you and your family is Hatzlacha – Success – Brachot – Blessings, and I say to you, todah rabah.