Yizkor 5779 – Yizkor Estate Sale Experience

About eight or ten months ago, I had a first time experience with something unknown to me up to that point.

The story goes like this. I was in charge of taking Catalina, our 11 year old daughter, to a playdate with a friend.  For some reason David, our 4 year old son, was with us and I took him, too.

As I arrived at Catalina’s friend’s house in very beautiful neighborhood, I saw many cars parked next to the house.

I was lucky enough that a group of gardeners were around and I asked what was going on with those cars. “An estate sale” they told me. When I heard their accent, I engaged them in conversation, especially about soccer. For the record, David was wearing an Argentinean soccer shirt.

‘Let’s go next door David”, I said. It was my first time at an estate sale.

I had no idea what to expect so, I said to David: “come with me, I may buy you something”. Bad idea.

In any case, I walked through the main door and a lady welcomed me. I asked her what I should do. She realized it was my first time at an Estate sale and she gave me instructions on what to do.

David and I walked through the rooms looking at stuff. Nothing in particular caught my eye, but it was interesting to see all the things that were for sale. Basically, everything; including the tissues boxes, rubber bands, opened perfumes, pencils, everything.

As I walked through the house, I realized that one of the people who lived in that house loved sports. I would like to guess it was the husband. Lots of baseball, football, soccer, tennis memorabilia, autographed shirts, cards, balls. As you may imagine I spent some time there.

Then I moved to the kitchen. Everything was for sale there. Nothing that I was interested in buying, but a nice decorated matzah box, like a matzah holder with the word “Matzah” in Hebrew stood out. This must have been a Jewish home. Not every single family in the area has a matzah box in the house. To confirm that, I went to the front door and checked, and in fact the mezuzah was there. The mezuzah was not for sale.

Well, now I looked at things with different eyes, and the more I looked, the more I started to imagine the couple who lived there. I imagined where they had their Seder, where they got dressed to go to shul, where they ate every night and held hands. I imagined where they dreamed, where they argued.

I could see the “stuff” that they had in the garage that they didn’t use and therefore they were for sale.

I do not want to keep you in suspense, but you might be wondering what did I buy?

I bought two things: a pair of candlesticks for my daughters who light one candle each every Shabbat and a soccer ball for David who for sure will share with Ari our oldest son.

We spent a good 45 minutes or more in that house and while I spent a big part of the time trying to imagine how the lives of those who were not living there anymore was, the most meaningful and moving experience happened as I left.

I paid, I started to walk back to my car and then I realized that the two things I was taking in fact, represent basically who I am. I am taking my life with me, in my hands.

Judaism and soccer. Candle sticks and a soccer ball.

I sat down in my car in silence for a moment. I jotted down on a piece of paper the following things.

Someone else will end up with your material things.

You leave this world only with your good deeds.

My tradition is non-negotiable. The mezuzah is not for sale.

One day someone else will have to imagine how you were.

Yizkor confronts us with all these realities. Yizkor brings back these four sentences.

Someone else will end up with your material things.

You leave this world only with your good deeds

My tradition is non-negotiable. The mezuzah is not for sale.

One day someone else will have to imagine how you were.

Today we have to imagine. How our lives would have been if we had those whom we loved with us right now.

Kids who lost their parents very early in life, imagine how their own lives would have been with them.

Parents who lost their children imagine their own lives seeing those kids growing, maturing.

Spouses imagine their own lives complete and not in halves.

Yizkor is the time when you bring back to life all those whom you love and are no longer with us.

Yizkor is the time when we say we love them, we remember them, we are better people because of them.

Yizkor is here to tell us that our hands are not empty. You have something in your hands. Take your own candle sticks and your own soccer ball and do great things with them. That is why we remember those who have left us.

We can do great things to honor them because:

Someone else will end up with your material things. They left us with more than just material things.

You leave this world only with your good deeds. They left us their good deeds as an example to follow.

My tradition is non-negotiable.  The mezuzah is not for sale. Our memories for them are non-negotiable as well.

One day someone else will have to imagine how you were. We still imagine them in our lives because they are still with us.

Yizkor starts on page: 290