Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



SisterSchmooze: Grave Matters

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

There’s a little-known ancient custom to visit cemeteries, especially the kevarim of the Avos and tzaddikim, on Tishah B’Av afternoon. Join the sisters

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

sister

I'm rarely at a loss for words, but I’d said all I had planned to say and didn’t know what to add. So there I stood, sefer Tehillim in hand, in front of the grave of my father, Nachum Stark z”l, wondering what to say after I’d said my last words. 

There’s a special power to prayers said at a parent’s kever. Perhaps the memory of our earthly father, who helped give us life and fulfilled many of our needs, reminds us of the Heavenly Father Who truly gives us life and fulfills all our needs. Maybe it’s our feeling that our parent’s neshamah can intercede for us from its lofty place in Shamayim. Or it might simply be the memory of the times we came crying to our father, to Daddy, with a skinned knee or a failed test, and he somehow made it better. 

I was already living in Israel, and every trip to America included the three-hour drive to my father’s grave on Long Island. I said the pirkei Tehillim one reads at a cemetery and the chapters for that day of the month, and also read the beautiful words of the pirkei Shir Hamaalos. I poured my heart out to Daddy, updated him, so to speak, on family news. As always, I ended with a silent prayer to Hashem that I would return to my father’s kever with news of simchahs, and then I walked away. 

Moments later, I walked back.

My father had died 15 years before. My oldest child, Nachum, born three months after my father’s petirah, was named for him. Nachum has my father’s tall and thin physique, his bright blue eyes, his easygoing personality. 

Now, standing in this quiet place, it suddenly hit me: In just a few years, Nachum would be a soldier. Like many Israeli mothers, I had managed to quash that thought and lived in happy denial. But walking away from my father’s kever, I realized that this might be the last time I could say a special prayer for my son’s safety before Nachum began his army service. I didn’t know when I would visit America next, and I desperately wanted the power of a prayer said at a father’s grave to accompany my son as he went to war. 

But what should I say? I’d covered all the usual pirkei Tehillim, said my last words. I decided to pick a chapter at random. 

When it comes to Tehillim — and to our lives generally — there is no random. 

The sefer opened to Chapter 144. “L’Dovid, Blessed is Hashem, my Rock, Who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.” In case I didn’t get the message, the chapter went on to ask Hashem to give His protection to our sons and our daughters… I read the words, closed my eyes, and felt my father’s comforting presence.

Related Stories

Double Brachah

Brachi Zeivald

Twin brothers born 20 minutes apart, married twin sisters born 20 minutes apart — and had daughters,...

Whispers: Chapter 3

Shira Hart

This time her question wasn’t about my hands or feet, or my height or weight. It was global: “Why ar...

Dance, Daddy, Dance

S.T. Agam

Why had I ever wished you would stop dancing?

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you