Many people appear during the shiva. Visitors keep coming and going the entire day. In the morning we have a minyan. My wife, in particular, finds it comforting that men who usually do not put on tefillin are doing so now. This provides something of value for our loss.

In the evening there is another minyan. Especially then, our home is full. It is easier for people to come with many others. To visit a family alone during the shiva is much more difficult, for what can one say. How can one comfort?

There are people who talk about one thing and another. They try to avert our minds from our grief, so that for a while we will not think of what has happened.

They mean well. I am grateful to them for their good intentions. But I do not want to be diverted. I want to think of Boruch, to see him before me in my mind. For I think that if you would merely sit here with me, and feel with me — perhaps without words — or if we talked about him together, then you too would miss him, and we would feel the loss together. And only such company can lessen our sorrow. But if people talk of other things, good as their intentions may be, the pain remains as deep as it was before they came.

Don’t Assign Blame

The woman who drove the car which hit our child also comes to see us, along with a friend of hers who was with her in the automobile. We understand how difficult this must be for her. It is very brave of her to gather the courage to come.

The other visitors, realizing who she is, fall silent. It is as if they regard her as an enemy, as the murderer of our child. But we try to put her at ease and tell her that we do not blame her, for everything is “beshert” and behashgachah peratit — foreseen and arranged by G‑d. Even if she had not driven too fast, Boruch still would not have been with us any more. For evidently, his time had come.

Al Kiddush Hashem — The Best Way to Die

I think again of the first Boruch, my little brother who died when he was less than a month old. The little child died, along with six million others, only because he was Jewish. Had he not been a member of a Jewish family, he would not have perished at the hands of the Nazis. Since he died solely because of his Jewishness, this meant that he was taken from this world al kiddush Hashem — for the sanctification of G‑d’s name.

In this context, the thought of Rabbi Joseph Karo comes to mind. It was revealed to him that he would die for the sanctification of G‑d’s name at an early age, and he accepted this fate as a great privilege. Later, however, this privilege was taken away from him, and Rabbi Joseph Karo went on to write his famous Beit Yosef and the code of Jewish law. Yet the great merit he acquired by writing these texts — texts used to this very day — was still less than the merit of dying for the sanctification of G‑d’s name.

We are strongly attached to life. If someone’s life is in danger, we must do everything possible to save it. Even the laws of Shabbat are set aside for this purpose. If the the High Priest (“Kohen Gadol), on the verge of entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, were to see a human being in mortal danger, even he — the holiest man of the Jewish people, in the holiest place in the world, and at the holiest time of the year — would have to interrupt his sacred service to try to save that life, and even if the chance of success was small.

Why is life here on earth so important?

The reason is that only here, in this material world and with the physical body, can the soul fulfill its task. For it is precisely here that G‑d wants a “dwelling place,” a setting to achieve His purposes.

This is why we are attached to life. This is why we must do everything to preserve our earthly life and that of others — in order to take full advantage of our Divine privilege.

Yet one day we must die. And if we were given the right to choose how to die, while we would probably not realize it while we live, after passing to the other world, we would know that dying for the sanctification of G‑d’s name is the most exalted way to end our earthly life.