Posted by: Subway Conductor | September 25, 2008

October 2008

From Rabbi Michael Arsers:

A Wealthy Jew was on his deathbed. With his children around him, he made one last request, “I would like to be buried with my socks on.” With his final strange request, the wealthy man expired.

His children were perplexed by this final request of their father’s. He was an extremely pious Jew and knew that, according to Jewish law, one could only be buried in a shroud. However, the man’s children went to inquire from their rabbi whether their father’s request could be honored.

“No,  it is not permitted to be buried with any clothing other than a simple shroud.” When they heard this response from their own rabbi, they decided to seek other opinions. Perhaps they could find at least one orthodox rabbi  who would give them his permission to honor their father’s deathbed appeal. They called rabbinical authorities in other cities but from each, they heard the same answer, “no, he can not be buried in his socks.”

The children bowed to the authority of Jewish law and went ahead and had their father buried in teh customary fashion.

One month later, on the occasion of sheloshim – the end of the first 30 days of mourning – the wealthy Jew’s will was finally opened. The man’s children and other family members sat in a room waiting to hear how his large fortune would be distributed. With everyone listening intently, the lawyer began to read the will. “Now that you know you can’t take a pair of socks with you, don’t fight over the money.” The man’s children had been given a valuable lesson.

As we approach the high holidays, we once again are forced to consider what is really important. To put it another way, what do we take with us when our time on earth is finished. Certainly our money and our possessions do not accompany us. What really counts, what we do take with us is the mitzvoth we have observed, the Torah we have learned and the deeds of kindness we have performed. The questions we have to ask ourselves this Yom Kippur are: Have we lived our lives in an ethical way? How have we treated other people? Have we observed G-d’s commandants? Each of us must ponder the answers to those questions.

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