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Zooming My Father's Funeral?

Sunday, 21 June, 2020 - 11:42 pm


Question of the Week: 


My father just passed away in London. I couldn’t fly to be there with him in his last days. I won’t be able to be there for his funeral. My family won’t be able to sit shiva together, as they are all over the world and borders closed. To be honest, I am at peace with his passing. He lived a long and good life. But how can I come to terms with not being there for him at the end? 




It must be so hard to miss your father’s final days. And watching a funeral on Zoom can’t be the same. But perhaps there is some comfort you can find in this difficult time. 


During this pandemic we have been forced to connect virtually. We have learnt that tuning in to a live event can really make you feel a part of it. It takes some focus and a bit of imagination, and of course it isn’t the same as face to face contact, but on some level you really are there.


This has profound ramifications. It’s not just a technological step forward, it’s a step forward in our consciousness. We have become less bound by the limits of physicality. We can be on two different sides of the world and yet share an intimate moment almost as if we were side by side. 


We have the ability to transcend spatial distance because we have a soul, and the soul is not limited to space. Only the body is stuck to one place. The soul can be anywhere any time. On a soul level, connection is not virtual, it is real. 


Your father has moved to a higher world, beyond the one that we inhabit. But we have the technology to connect to that world from ours. When you say Kaddish in his memory, when you give charity in his honour, when you remind your children of his ways and continue the Yiddishkeit he instilled in you, you are connecting to him at those moments. You are zooming in on his soul. 


He is not physically here anymore. And that is painful. But his soul is as alive as ever. You can still share space with him. When you connect more to your soul, when you enter a more spiritual state, you will feel his presence, as he feels yours. 


Perhaps this is a deeper meaning of the blessing we give to mourners, Hamakom Yenachem Etchem - G-d should bring comfort to you. The name we use for G-d is unusual: Hamakom, which literally means “The Place.” 


G-d is the place in which everything exists. He is the all inclusive space within which creation resides. And that is the comfort. No matter where we are - Sydney or London, on earth or in heaven - we all share the exact same space, Hamakom, G-d’s embrace. 


You were always there for your father. You are there for him now. And he is there for you.


Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

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