Tuesday, July 14, 2015


               Beruriah was the learned, intelligent, pious, tactful, witty and wise wife of the saintly Jewish Rabbi, Meir who lived in the second century AD. On a Sabbath day, while Rabbi Meir was teaching in the house of study, his two beloved sons died accidentally. The Sabbath is observed as a very special and precious day by all devout Jews. Beruriah did not want to grieve her husband on the Holy Sabbath day. She decided to wait till the end of the rituals of Sabbath to convey the tragic news to her husband. She also wanted to soften his sorrow and prevent a sudden shock to him by following an intelligent and tactful approach. She laid the dead bodies of their sons on a couch in the upper room of their residence and covered the still bodies with a sheet.

              When the Rabbi returned from the Academy after the Sabbath, he enquired about their sons, but she hid the news tactfully till he had completed the rituals of the Jewish religious ceremony of Havdalah. It involves the use of the five senses-tasting the wine, smelling sweet spices, seeing the light of the Havdalah candle, feeling the heat of its flame, and hearing the blessings. He pronounced the prescribed Blessings and finished the customary evening meal to mark the ceremonial end of the Sabbath. She then told him calmly, “A few years ago, a friend had given me a treasure of two precious ornaments to be kept under safe custody. I used to appreciate the treasure and love them as if they were our own. But now the real owner of the treasure wants it back and has come to claim his property. Kindly advise me whether I should return them to the owner or not.” The Rabbi ruled emphatically, “You should return the treasure without any hesitation. That is the prime duty of one who holds a deposit.”

             She then led him through the stairs to the upper room and gently removed the sheet covering the precious bodies of their beloved children. She said, tearfully, “These are the ornaments God gave to us in trust to keep under our safe custody. He has now taken them back.” He expressed great grief and cried, but she reminded him of his earlier direction that one who holds a deposit should readily return it to the owner as soon as he demands it.  She quoted the following verse from the Book of Job: “The Lord gave, and now He has taken away. May His name be praised!” This tactful approach reduced his grief and he praised the wisdom of his wife which illuminated him and enabled him to withstand the great tragedy.
             Life after death is a reality. In the heaven of happiness reserved for the righteous, we will meet our loving Lord who created us to be with Him forever. It is said that when we are born, we cry and the people around us rejoice. When we die, people cry, and, if we are saved, we rejoice!  Man’s way leads to a hopeless end while God’s way leads to an endless hope. Everyone is equal before death as death comes to all - great and small.
             The world is like a garden and every person is like a precious flower. But God, the owner of the garden, has the right to pluck the flowers of his choice. That is what happens when our dear ones die. Death is a moment of sorrow for everyone close to the dead person. In the sorrow, we may cry and complain to God why he has taken our dear ones away from us. But let us believe that one dies when he is called by God to His abode. Often the best flowers are plucked earlier.
© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Alfeen Public School, Kanjirappally, Kerala, India. 
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