| Sister Shmooze |

Grave Matters


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.

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Tagged: SisterSchmooze