An old friend of the family just passed away as a result of a tragic accident. What is the Jewish way to help make sense of all of this?


As the years pass, we witness death many times, but the passing of a close friend is different than any other passing. In a way, a part of us dies as well. They say that two friends carry a small piece of one another wherever they go. And so, when this friend departs, we too experience death vicariously.

How do you respond to a part of you dying? You have a choice: You can resign to the inevitable with a broken spirit and eat away the rest of your years despondently awaiting full surrender. Or you can defy that taste of death by cherishing life even more.

We Jews often quote the words of Solomon the Wise, "V'ha-chai yiten el libo"--meaning, "And he who lives should take it to heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:2). In simple words, our response to death is to take life to a whole new level. Before witnessing death, we believe we will live forever—so we think nothing of squandering our time. Now we understand that our days are counted, that not a moment will repeat itself.

In the words of one of our wise sages,1 "People fret about wasting their money, but no one frets about wasting their days. The money they saved cannot help them but their wasted days are forever lost."

Today is a great day to start living.

P.S. You might want to look also at our Death and Mourning section for more on the topic.