My father once interviewed a Rabbi who spent most
of his days writing and writing. What do you write all
day? my father asked him. I write the eulogies for
each member of my congregation, he replied
As we stand in the week of Chayei Sarah
the quintessential time of burial, eulogy and remembrance, I
would like to share with you my eulogy for a close friend.
Mr. M. Sable
Other details: See below
He came into my life in 1995, when he was just
6 years old. At first our relationship was kind of rocky, me
getting used to his idiosyncrasies and mood swings, him getting
used to my temperament and occasional impatience.
As time passed we became good friends. Loyalty
built, as we learned to trust each other. We became so close
that some of my old-time friends began getting jealous. As time
passed, we got closer and closer and began traveling together
almost everywhere. He wasnt that handsome and becoming,
but he was reliable. He had many shortcomings, but as I became
more accustomed to him, I learned to overlook many of his weaknesses.
After all, I wasnt that perfect myself, and yet he remained
loyal to me. Yes, my friend wasnt that beautiful, but
he was my friend.
As time passed, we became quite attached. Sometimes
I would spend more time with my friend than with anyone else,
even family members. We took long trips together traveled
into the mountains during the summer, driving along the windy
highways taking in the breeze. At times we had to brave the
rain or snow, and slowly venture through treacherous ground.
He learned to adjust to my rhythm as I adjusted
to his. We learned to align ourselves to the twists and turns
of lifes journeys. He would sing for me, in many voices.
He saw me at my best and my worst and never judged me. He accepted
me both when I was frustrated, angry, yelling at myself and
others for being late, as well as when I would smile and sing
to myself, or just be plain silly. I learned to see things through
his lens, his windows and mirrors and became a greater
person for it.
Even when others would offend us, he would deftly
help me maneuver and get around all challenges. When others
around us would be caught up in their own machinations, and
distracted by the rush hours of their lives, he
would often soothe me and help me cruise through the madness.
We even got into trouble with the law together.
I cannot tell you how many times we had a run in with the cops,
and had to face stiff penalties for our mischievous behavior.
All those summonses cost me plenty.
One of the things I really miss about him, is
his ability to allow me to have conversations with others, even
while I was with him; he never felt ignored. As a matter of
fact, as I think about it, when cell phones became all the rage,
he helped energize my private conversations and allowed me to
return many calls which I simply could not do sitting consumed
at my desk.
Above all, my friend allowed me to use his shoulder
to lean on. How often was I calmed by just taking a ride with
So yes, you can see how close we became.
But as the years rolled on, his age began to show.
He grew increasingly needy. Instead of the sporadic need for
nurturing, he began to be more and more demanding, and costly.
Yet, because of his friendship to me I was willing to pay the
price. After all, he helped me get to places I was unable to
reach on my own. Times sometimes became so challenging that
our relationship became quite unbalanced: I was doing a lot
more giving than receiving. As he increasingly ailed, I was
becoming a caretaker, and began to fear that we would cease
Yet, we endured even that. Often I would wonder
whether our relationship hadnt turned dysfunctional. Perhaps
I was willing to tolerate all his aches and pains because it
allowed me to stay in my comfort zone. You know, the known evil
is always better than the unknown one. I ignored these thoughts,
as our relationship rolled on, on its own course.
As he continued to deteriorate with age, my close
friends began to badger me that it wasnt good for my image
to continue hanging around with my friend. This friend
was becoming a liability for a person of your stature,
they argued. They tried to persuade me to give up my friend,
to find new friends.
I thought to myself: Do I give up a loyal
companion, who had traveled with me through thick and thin,
just because he was getting old and grouchy?
Grouchy indeed. As his grouchiness grew, I finally
decided to take my friend to a doctor to see if he can be helped.
My friend didnt like the idea. Doctors are just
lousy mechanics, he seemed to be telling me, they
have no real sensitivity to life and no true appreciation of
You need help, I told him, and
I am going to fix you.
He replied, Its you who needs fixing.
You and your goods friends who just want to see me canned.
Have I been anything but loyal to you all
these years? Do you know how much time and energy I spent to
keep you in shape, I retorted.
But he wasnt going to let me have the last
word. You helped me only because I serve your interests.
I dont really think you love me for who I am. You care
for me only for what I do for you!
Maybe he was right. So I conveniently shut my
His grouchiness grew, and I sensed that the time
had come to say goodbye. I thought to myself, this will
be easy. Bidding farewell shouldnt be that big of a thing.
Hey, everybodys time has got to come after all.
Little did I know. Getting rid of this friend was not going
to be easy. You cant just develop a relationship with
someone, and then just discard him when he no longer neatly
fits your plans.
I thought that I wouldnt need many excuses.
After all, my friend was coughing and belching. A day barely
passed that he didnt have some breakdown. I wont
get graphic, but he was creaking and leaking, and it didnt
seem too difficult to just take him to the hospital or
a nursing home and allow him to finish his days in peace.
But he would have the last laugh.
The sad day finally came. My friend took, what
I thought, was his last breath. He had, driven me to my weekly
class in the city. And after the class, he wasnt feeling
well. He couldnt lift himself even with a boost. I quickly
rushed him to the hospital, thinking that I would be going home
alone. Mind you, it wasnt easy to shlep him to the hospital.
He simply refused to go. And he was one heavy dude. I finally
dragged him there, at around midnight, with a little help from
What do you know? As soon as I enter the emergency
room, someone yells out to me: Hey, Rabbi Jacobson. Dont
you remember me? I didnt recognize his face. He
reminds me that he came to some of my lectures in Manhattan.
What are you doing here? I ask him. Hes an
electrician called in to do some emergency work. Quickly, he
introduces me to the head attendant, Roni, and tells him that
he should treat my patient well, being that I am an important
Rabbi. I get the royal treatment and my friend is quickly
Quietly, I whisper to those in charge, frankly,
I am ready to say goodbye to my friend. Please just try to make
his final moments as pleasant as possible. But my plans
were just not meant to be.
Before I leave for the night, I have one more
thing to do. I had given my friend some of my books (Toward
A Meaningful Life) to hold onto. It was now several months that
he was carrying around these books, and he happened to have
them with him this evening. What hashgacha protis (Divine Providence)!
I took two of the books and signed them for the electrician
and Roni, thanking them for helping my friend.
The next morning Roni calls me, and to my surprise
he informs me that they could help save my friend. The medical
bill will be so much and so much. They are confident that he
will recover and be ready to go home. I told Roni, frankly,
my friend is on his last legs, and I think that he should remain
there. Its just not worth the money to try to keep him
alive and bring him back home. Roni said to me, how
much money would make it worth your while to save him?
I said no money at all. It just isnt worth it any
longer. Lets take him out of his misery. Roni insisted,
Ok, if thats the case, well do it for no cost
at all. What was I going to say, no, dont
save my loyal friend. So I agreed. Roni and his staff
successfully resuscitated him, and felt that I should come pick
him up as soon as possible.
Ok, so my friend is not going away so fast. As
I shared my story about how difficult I was finding it to free
myself from my difficult friend, someone who had just gone through
a terrible divorce, says to me sardonically: I know how
you feel. Its much harder to rid yourself of a bad spouse
than to find a new one
(dear reader: if this is
in bad taste, forgive me and please let me know).
The next week, again after my class, my friend
sputtered yet again. And again, I took him to the hospital.
Only to encounter yet another attendant who began telling me
his life story. And again, I took another book my friend was
carrying, signed it and gave it to this new attendant.
And then I realized the depth of my friends
closeness. He was holding on to my books books that were
meant to be given away to people my friend would lead me to,
including the hospital attendants. The Holy Arizal teaches us
and the Baal Shem Tov elucidates the point that
each of us is allocated a certain number of Divine sparks that
we are meant to elevate in our life journey. These sparks will
beckon us, even haunt us until we rise to their our
calling After all the sparks that my friend and I had elevated
together, my friend was carrying a few final sparks for us to
finish. By refusing to go his peaceful way, he was telling me
that we still have unfinished business together. Distribute
all the books that I am carrying for you, and then I can go
to my resting place in peace, my friend was whispering
to me in his last, final gasps.
What a friend!
I quickly proceeded to sign and give away all
my books to the various attendants at the hospital. When I finished,
my friend was finally ready to say his final goodbye.
So, go in peace my good friend. You have taught
me much. You have traveled far and wide with me. You have seen
me grow, perhaps like no one else. I will not forget you.
Farewell, my 1989 brown Mercury Sable.
Disclaimer: This obituary is only a metaphor and
hopefully will be taken as such. In no way does it minimize
the profound loss of a true close friend or relative. To all
those that have lost someone close, please accept my condolences
and prayers. May the soul of your close one empower you to find
the strength to build a life inspired by his or her soul.