Furniture Is Not Needed In The Next World
In my last post, The 4 Hardest Things I Had To Do After My Son Passed Away, I spoke about how very sad I was about clearing out my son’s room after he left this world for the next. There were clothes and furniture that had to find a new home. In particular, I remember how he spent so much time assembling and setting up his desk and chair. Those simple pieces of furniture had a lot memories for me. I held back the tears from my eyes as the haulers carried the stuff down the stairs.
There was also another piece of furniture that also had memories for me that day. It was a light color, solid wood, upright dresser. My Grandpa was a furniture maker, and he made this dresser for me when I was four years old. I’d been shlepping that dresser around for decades, and now, the haulers were taking it away.
Funny though, I didn’t feel bad at all at the removal of the dresser. I did have a bit of sentimental feeling for it because my Grandpa made it, but that was all. I was totally ok with seeing them carry it out the door. Why?
Because I didn’t need it anymore. Just then, my sadness lessened when I realized that Jacob probably felt the same way when he saw, from his heavenly abode, his furniture loaded onto the truck and hauled away. He doesn’t need furniture, clothes, or a room in Heaven. He doesn’t need books or video games there either. I just figured this out.
So what does my son need right now? Since he’s no longer in a physical body, a more precise question would be ‘What does my son’s soul need right now?’
What My Child Really Needs In Heaven
Jacob’s soul needs our mitzvos, our prayers, our good deeds. He needs the spiritual rewards that can only be obtained in this world. Because he can no longer participate in this physical world, my husband, Jacob’s brothers, and I perform mitzvos for him so his soul can climb higher in Heaven. We needed guidance on how we could help Jacob get the spiritual rewards his soul needs.
Our Rabbi put us in touch with Rabbi Glick of Living Lessons, a publisher of Jewish children’s books in Brooklyn, New York. Rabbi Glick was getting ready to reprint the children’s edition of Pirkie Avot (Ethics of the Fathers). We asked him if we could sponsor this new printing with a dedication to Jacob. He was delighted to help perform this wonderful mitzvah in honor of our son. Turns out that Rabbi Glick is no stranger to grief. He lost a small son in a drowning accident a few years ago.
We now have a beautiful book of Pirkie Avot dedicated to Jacob. The book is illustrated, with Hebrew and English text, and includes biographies of the Sages, commentaries, insights, and stories. Adults as well as children love this book. It can be purchased here: http://www.livinglessons.com/product/pirkeiavos/ Tell them to send you the book with Jacob’s dedication inside, as they have different printings of the same book. (It may also be purchased on Amazon, but I’m not sure if the Amazon warehouse has the latest edition with the special dedication.) Jacob loved children and I know this book will be a merit for him.
Next, we contacted Jacob’s middle school, a private religious school, asking them what the school needed that we could dedicate in Jacob’s memory. After some discussion, we decided to donate money to a scholarship fund bearing his name. The school told us that, due to the pandemic, many families lost their jobs or businesses. It was getting harder and harder for families to pay tuition. I think Jacob would approve of our money being spent this way to help others.
We also donated Torah books and prayer books to the shul that Jacob attended when he was growing up. We donated children’s books to Jacob’s preschool. Everyone remembered him and were happy to participate in honoring him.
These are some of the things we did to honor Jacob’s memory. My husband and I continue to search for meaningful ways to do mitzvos for our son.
Reaping Spiritual Reward
Doing Mitzvos For Our Loved Ones
When mitzvos are performed on behalf of our loved ones who have passed away, they reap the spiritual reward as if they had done the mitzvah themselves. Whether it’s giving tzedakah (charity), and it doesn’t matter how much, prayer, learning Torah, attending a Torah class and/or sponsoring a class, helping others either physically or with words of encouragement, even a giving a smile to others, all these acts help their soul reach higher and higher in Heaven.
When we do mitzvos or any act of kindness, it’s good to mention the name of our loved one. For example, when I pray, I start by saying to G-d ‘May my prayers be for Jacob’. Or when I put a coin in the tzedakah box I say ‘May this tzedakah be for the elevation of Jacob’s soul’ (l’ilui nishmat). The exact words don’t matter. It’s just good to mention the person’s name when one does the mitzvah.
May all our loved ones who are no longer here with us benefit from our mitzvos and acts of goodness and kindness to others. May we see them again soon, in a physical body, with the coming of Mashiach and Techiat HaMeitim (resurrection of the dead) speedily in our days.
That’s such an interesting thought about the furniture. I am someone who has a hard time letting go of the physical belongings of the deceased. I have most of my grandma’s shoes. I was wearing one of the pairs and realized it did not fit well, and yet, I struggled to give that pair away. I will think about the idea that she no longer needs the shoes.
That is really cool re: the pirke avot book!