Uriel, yesterday morning we received word: “There was an accident in the Tank Corps and Uriel was killed.” Shock, doesn’t make any sense. Those are our feelings even now, when this great crowd here escorts you on your last journey.
You know, they say that when a person dies, people suddenly call up his attributes and good qualities, since only now do we feel his absence. Uriel, when it comes to you I feel that it’s not so, since nothing new comes to mind now that you’re not here. You’re so special and such a wonderful person that your qualities were apparent to everyone when you were alive.
I asked you if you were going to the last Shabbat class reunion we were having, and you replied that likely yes, unless you’d be stuck on base for Shabbat. As soon as you said it, I thought to myself, as if Uriel’s going to have to stay in the base for some infraction. What could you, Uriel, possibly do wrong that would make you remain there for Shabbat? Uriel, you couldn’t hurt a soul. You couldn’t do anything bad.
You know, everyone of our roommates in Neve Shmuel had some sort of quirk, you could say. Yours was that you were simply normal. You went to all the classes, you always did what you had to do. You were what teachers dream of: a model student.
Uriel, how is it that so many people who are so dissimilar consider themselves to be such good friends of yours? You had that special attribute to display amazing love for your fellow person, which drew everyone to you. I look around and it simply amazes me to see the great variety of people here. You were able to influence all of them; you were everyone’s friend.
When I tried to think how and why I hurt you in any way, so that I could ask your forgiveneness for the last time, I remembered that more than once I used to do something you didn’t like: praise you to your face. Actually, all of us were guilty of this. But was so hard to be with you without saying: you’re a tzaddik, you’re a genius or other praises, because you were these things. But I knew how you didn’t like it and you didn’t like to hear it so I beg your forgiveness for those times I said these words.
Uriel, Am Yisrael suffered an enormous loss today: such goodness in one person, so much justice, integrity, love, modesty and true joy – all this lost in one hard moment. It won’t be an issue to remember you at all. The great challenge will be to learn from you how to do things right, how to meet the standards you’ve set for us.
From you we learn what is real faith, what’s real fear of Hashem. To my mind, this is our task now: to learn from the best, to learn from you. I believe that your job is to continue to protect Am Yisrael. Only now you’ll be doing it from above, along with the rest of the tzaddikim. I have no doubt that you did your job in the best possible way, as always.
I love you, dear friend.