Thoughts to Comfort the Bereaved

Broken Heart

By the Grace of G-d

28th of Nissan, 5712

Brooklyn 13, N.Y.


My Dear Mr. [name redacted],

I was deeply grieved to hear of the passing of your father and I take this means of extending to you, your sisters and all the bereaved family my heartfelt sympathy.

May G-d comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

It is the sacred custom of our people, in comforting the mourners at shivah, to say the above blessing of Nichum Avelim. This is not just a manner of phrase, but a true message of comfort which is contained in the significant inclusion of the mourners among the other mourners for Zion and Jerusalem.

Here we find the answer to a seemingly difficult question: inasmuch as the blessing of Nichum Avelim is given only during the period of Shivah, how can one comfort the mourner at a time when the grief is so fresh and acute? The consolation is to be found in the similitude between the mourner for a close departed and the mourners for Zion and Jerusalem.

For in mourning for the loss of the Beth Hamikosh and the glory of Jerusalem the Holy City, Jews have derived consolation from two sources. First, the Divine assurance through the medium of all our prophets that the Beth Hamikdosh  will be rebuilt again and its glory will surpass anything in the past. Second, the fact that spiritually the Beth Hamikdosh was never destroyed and is still in existence through its influence and inspiration in our daily life. That is why the mention of Zion and Jerusalem is so frequent in all our prayers daily and on Shabbos and Yomtov.

The same is true in the case of a mourner for a dear departed. Here, too, the consolation is twofold: First, the Divine assurance through all the prophets that the dead will rise to a life infinitely more glorious than formerly. Second, the memory of the departed is everlasting through their good deeds and especially through the upbringing, influence and inspiration left with children to carry on the sacred traditions of the Torah and Old Israel in everyday life. Here is a continuous and everlasting bond between the departed and those left behind which no outside force can destroy.

I cannot forego this occasion without mentioning the great and eternal memorial which you set up for your parents during their lifetime through the publication of the Tzemach Tzedek which is so widely studied and disseminated, rendering a public service to the highest order, this meriting Zechus Horabim.

May you not know of any sorrow in the future,

With blessing,


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