What we take with us when we die

Since my return to blogging in April 2020, following my year of mourning for Papa, I have searched for interesting and likeminded blogs with themes similar to my Skeptic’s Kaddish.

Just recently I was very gratified to come across a blog by Amanda Achtman called ‘Dying to Meet You’, in which she has taken to blogging daily in 2021 about death from an interfaith Christian-Jewish perspective.

The short video below is one that I found through Amanda’s blog. I was already familiar with this Jewish folktale, but I consider it a powerfully poignant and important lesson and often reflect upon it, for it applies to all of humankind. I’m very thankful to be able to share it with all of you here, on The Skeptic’s Kaddish:


Transcription

Edward Reichman was an Israeli billionaire and philanthropist who died a few years ago. When he passed away, he left a great fortune worth billions of dollars.

He left his family with two wills and instructions that one be opened immediately after his death and the other be opened 30 days after his death.

Among his requests in the first will was that he asked that he be buried with a specific pair of socks that he owned. However, despite the family’s best efforts, the burial organizers refused to let Mr. Reichman be buried with his socks on, as it was against Jewish law – one may not be buried with any item of clothing.

The family argued that Mr. Reichman was a very learned, religious person, and that he must have had a good reason for wanting to do this; however, as the rabbi explained to the family, “Although your father left that request when he was in this world, now that he is in the World of Truth, he surely understands that it is in his best interests to be buried without his socks.”

So – he was buried without his socks.

30 days later, the family opened the second will that allotted his wealth. In the letter, it read: “My dear children, by now you must have buried me without my socks. I wanted you to understand that a man can have 1 billion dollars in this world, but in the end, he can’t even take with him his favorite pair of socks!”

What really matters in life is not how much money you have in your pocket, nor how successful you are, but rather the good you can bring to this world; that is all you can really take with you, and that is all that will really live on.

51 thoughts on “What we take with us when we die”

  1. A well-done story to give a powerful message. With my family members who have passed away, they are kept alive by my memories of them — as well as everyone else who spent time with them. And those memories are valuable inheritances.

  2. David, this is such a wonderful lesson more people need to learn. My experience with two family deaths this month are a perfect example of live your life with kindness and love as that is what people remember.

        1. Lauren,

          “Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet” is a traditional Jewish phrase we use when somebody dies to comfort the mourners. It literally means “God is the True Judge.” I am not sure how much I believe this to be true, but it helps me to have some words of comfort in my tradition’s arsenal when I don’t know what to say myself.

          -David

        2. We had a lovely, although very small five person, gravesite funeral for my aunt. Restrictions The Cantor did a wonderful job leading us in prayer and song. One of my cousins kept telling her (the Cantor) what traditions were done at his father’s funeral last summer. The Cantor did a great job of going with the flow and accepting the suggestions. My aunt would have loved it. Questioning and learning are of course, in our blood.
          The other will be mourned by few as his choices were not to extend love or kindness.
          I have to believe G-d is the true judge. Otherwise, many things do not make sense to me. IMHO

        3. I understand.

          Currently, a lack of obvious sense in the universe makes more sense to me, but I can empathize with your perspective – I’ve been there… and who knows? Maybe I’ll be there again some day.

  3. How wonderful that you found a like-minded connection. One of many on your blogging journey, I am sure, but a special one nonetheless. I love the story about legacy and how meaningless material things are, in the end. An important lesson about what really matters, told with a hint of sarcasm.

    1. Exactly, Rajasree. That’s it in a nutshell.

      And, somehow, so many human beings continue to live as if this weren’t true. πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

      I’m glad you connected with this story.

      Yours,
      David

  4. Your blog is amazing! I admire it so much. That tale was great, I love that you gave the transcription. Perfect ending for sure. πŸ‘Œ

  5. Thank you for the story. So touching. It reminded me of a story between my uncle and his grandson. They were in the grandmother’s house when the boy asked him: “To whom belonged all the things in the house”, and the uncle said: “To my mum.” After a while the boy said:” She was a very generous lady. She left everything.”

    1. Mary.

      Wow. Children say such precious things. My father died when my daughter was 3Β½-years-old, and that’s when she gradually came to understand the concept of death… but we had to explain it to her delicately, over time, because we didn’t want to scare her.

      Yours,
      David

      1. I agree David. I was an eight years old when my dad died in an accident. Recently , I am 53, I managed to heal the grief and be at peace with it. I can imagine it took some effort to explain it with grace to your daughter.

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