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7 Cheshvan 5779 - 16 October 2018

Hesped by Marcelle Palmer

This is the text of the eulogy given by Marcelle Palmer, Sam Marks’ granddaughter on the 2nd night of Shiva.

This coming Shabbat we will read the Parsha of Tazria-Metzora. The beginning of Parshat Tazria culminates one of the sections of laws about purity. Purity is a theme of Sefer Vayikra, and is a matter which the Torah discusses in great length, which may beg the question why is Judaism so obsessed with purity?

The Ketav Sofer gives one answer that is very pertinent. On a pure biological level, humans are not so different from animals. The difference comes because man is entrusted with a specific task by Hashem, and this gives him a higher spiritual position than other animals. Whilst man is engaged in achieving his task a part of the Shechina (Divine presence) dwells inside him, and this is the “Tzelem Elokim” – being in the image of G-d.  Like we treat shuls as being different and more special and holy than other buildings because part of the Shechina rests there, likewise humans are different to other creatures because they are made holy by the presence of the Shechina in them. At the end of life, when a person has completed their appointed task, their soul, and the bit of the Shechina that was within them, returns to Hashem.

Yesterday Grandpa’s soul returned to Hashem, after a life filled with so many great and wonderful things, that I would like to believe that he achieved far, far more than the task which was assigned to him!

I have very vivid memories from when I was younger of Grandpa saying that he was delivered from his terrible ordeal during the war with a specific task from Hashem – to go and help others. This he did, in many ways, financially, personally, and by being generally kind, thoughtful and considerate of the needs of others. Over the past couple of days we have heard many stories of my Grandpa’s wonderful actions, and I am sure that we will continue to hear more throughout the week.

Grandpa had incredibly strong Emmunah in Hashem. Many people live their life believing in Hashem, but it is a life that largely follows through the motions; keeping Shabbat, going to shul, keeping a Kosher home, and so on. Grandpa’s faith was never running through the motions, He had a true personal relationship with “his friend upstairs”, a kind of relationship that is incredibly rare and very special.  Grandpa always understood fully that he was not in control and did not call the shots; Hashem directed his way in life.

Because of this great belief, Grandpa also said that when his time came to return to his Maker he could face this without fear. As Grandpa never thought that he was in control, he was satisfied that Hashem knew best. This was never a censored subject, or a taboo, but a simple fact. Grandpa internalised more fully than most that his destiny was not his to decide, but lay in the hands of Hashem.

Grandpa was blessed to have a large and loving family, who respected and admired him greatly. I hope that this thought is of comfort to everyone, and that we can all take forward this very strong belief and faith which so characterised my Grandpa.