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Do It Today

Do It Today

A timeless lesson from Nachman Glauber, of blessed memory, who was tragically killed with his pregnant wife.


There are few things more challenging and uncomfortable than sitting at the bedside of a dying person and attempting to offer some sense of comfort and calm. What do you say to someone who is about to leave this world? How do you reassure him about where he is going or try to convince her that everything is going to be alright? What do you respond when they say, "I am scared and frightened," or "I am not ready for this"?

We are very fortunate that Jewish tradition provides a script and a structure to help us guide someone as he is about to embark on this final journey. In the last few weeks alone, I have found myself at three bedsides reciting viduy, the deathbed confession, with individuals who soon after left this world. In some cases, the terminally ill patient was not conscious or awake and I simply read it on his behalf. In other circumstances, the viduy was read at the end of a heartfelt, meaningful, and powerful conversation.

Viduy provides the opportunity to get our spiritual affairs in order. I have never sat at a bedside and heard anyone regret not working longer hours or give her family instructions about physical or material endeavors. However, almost every bedside I have sat at did include a conversation about the topic of regrets and how to make sure we don't have any when it is time to say goodbye.

Much of the text of viduy deals with our relationship with the Almighty and expresses our sincere apology and regret if or when we have failed Him in our lives. Viduy lets us pass from this world to the next feeling whole in our relationship with our Creator. But just as important is the unscripted part of viduy in which we reach out to anyone with whom we may have a rift and seek reconciliation and healing. Viduy provides an opportunity to both ask for forgiveness, as well as grant it, so that we can go on our journey without being weighed down by spiritual baggage.

As I reflected on the bedside viduy experiences I have had of late, I can't help but think of my own mortality and the importance of not having regrets. Hearing about "what could have been," or "what didn't have to be," is a stark reminder that we need not wait until our deathbed to get our affairs in order. There is no better time to heal, reconcile, and repair damaged relationships, than the present.

Consider the following contrasting stories from this week. One headline I read says, "Decades-old Family Rift Ends with a Phone Call - American Relatives No Longer Know Why a Prewar Dispute Divided Siblings Across Continents and Decades." It is incredible to think that generations in a family didn't speak to each other, and nobody can even remember why. If the subject of the dispute wasn't even worth remembering, was it really worth dividing a family for generations?

In contrast, you have likely heard the tragic story of a young Chassidic couple, Nachman and Raizy Glauber, who were killed in a hit-and-run accident last Sunday in New York. Raizy was six months pregnant with their first son, who died the next day, after being delivered. A letter that Nachman had written to his parents on his wedding day has emerged. It expresses his gratitude for all that they had done to bring him to that day. Here is the letter translated from Yiddish:

To my dear parents:

In these imminent joyous and highly spiritual moments of my life, when I'm heading to my chuppah to begin my own family, I feel a sting in my heart that I'm already leaving your warm home.

I feel an obligation to thank you for everything you did for me since I was a small child. You did not spare time, energy and money, whether it was when I needed a private tutor to learn or an eye doctor or general encouragement. Also, later on, you helped me to succeed in my Torah studies, you sent me to yeshiva to learn your values, religious and worldly, until I reached to this current lucky moment.

Even though I'm leaving your home (actually I'm not leaving, I'm bringing in an additional family member) I want to tell you that all the education and values you taught me I'll – with God's help — take along with me in my new home, and continue to plant the same education in my home and kids that God will grant me.

But since kids do not grasp what parents are, and how much they do for them, and only when he matures and – with God's help — have their own kids, they could realize it. And unfortunately I may have caused you a lot of pain; I am asking you to please forgive me.

I'm asking you, I'm dependent on your prayers, pray for me and my bride, and I will pray for you.

I pray to God that Daddy and Mommy should see lots of pride and delight from me and my special bride, until the final redemption of the Messiah.

From your son who admires and thanks you and will always love you.


One family inherited a decades-old fight while another was reminded of a precious letter filled with love, communicated during the prime of their son's life, simply because he wanted them to know how he felt.

Let's not wait until it is too late. You don't need to be saying viduy on your deathbed to repair relationships, communicate with those you love, or get your spiritual affairs in order. Take a lesson from Nachman Glauber and do it today.

March 11, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 21

(17) Rachel Silverman, March 18, 2013 5:11 AM

My hearts go out to the family of Nachman and Raizy Glauber

I send my deepest condolences to the family of Nachman and Raizy Glazer. My heart breaks for their horrific loss, that this young couple, 21, newly married, and 6 months pregnant with their first son, was killed in a tragic car crash. Mr. Glauber was a loving son and husband and would have made a wonderful Jewish father. I am so sad that he will never have this opportunity to make the Jews and the world a better place.

(16) Anonymous, March 17, 2013 4:05 PM

family rifts....

Seeing our mother estranged from her brother and us estranged from our cousins for years, my siblings decides that it's okay to "agree-to disagree". We are all entitles to our wrong opinions and we will not allow our different opinions and philosophies come between us. Also, we agreed to weigh and measure a life full of love, support, caring,,, against one disagreement. It usually starts with one disagreement and grows out of proportion. If you take a scale and weigh the good times, love, brotherly support.... against the disagreement, surely the love will outweigh the difference.

(15) julie, March 14, 2013 10:02 PM

hart breaking

So sad, My hart go's out to the family's xxx

(14) Chana, March 14, 2013 3:40 AM

Repair immediately so it won't be too late!

With intense sadness I heard of the tragic death of Nachman, Raizy and their baby-son and my heart went out to the family of this handsome young man and his beautiful wife. The letter Nachman left for his parents will no doubt be of great comfort to them, a testimony of
thoughtfulness and gratitude from a beloved son, who was taken so early. We Jewish people love our family, yet we also have arguments which sometimes result in terrible rifts, which often do not get "repaired" until it is too late! We had such a rift in my family, between 2 brothers-in-law, both intelligent and hard-working business partners. The argument escalated and then involved my mother's 2 sisters, who each took their respective husband's side. One business partner left, took his wife and children with him and moved away to set up his own business and the other partner remained in the original business and was killed in an automobile accident in Paris/France while on a business trip. My uncle, the one who had earlier decided to leave his partner because of a disagreement, went over to my aunt's and arranged everything from the funeral to the business transactions; he apologized for his stubborness and his lack of tact and willingness to listen and my aunt forgave him. But till his dying day he carried the burden of not having been able to ask for forgivingness from his former business partner.It bothered him very much and he often spoke to me about this fact. And so in our family we have a rule: repair immediately, do not let time "settle" arguments or disagreements, instead go and face the person with whom you had that disagreement and talk it out and offer your apologies (even if you felt you were "right")
Much easier, much better and you will never have regrets which will last a life-time.

Anonymous, March 14, 2013 11:35 PM

great story and insight...

but what can be done about serious rifts, when one party will not make amends?

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