A Tribute to Larry Leibov
Be’ezrat Hashem, thank you Rabbi Nadler. It is true what you said of Barbara’s tremendous devotion through this year – there is nothing that she didn’t do for Larry, all through his life, and she continues to give the greatest honor to her beloved and heart’s love. Barbara, halacha says that a spouse must mourn publicly for the other, for the shloshim – it is meant that is the minimal time of aveilut. You are always beyond and you say you need it for your meaning to live, to give him kavod through the kadesh. You present matchless devotion in your daily kadesh. I pray that I know a love like yours.
It is commonly known that two of the most essential words in Yiddishkeit are found in the word “bereishit.” The beginning word of the Torah has the end already implied. The word “berisihit” begins with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first letter aleph is reserved for G-d and the second implies relationship. Humankind knows itself through sacred relationship. Berishit ends with the last letter of the alphabet for to understand that humanity enters the infinite because after the taf there is only silence.
Bereishit is completed by the words “yir’ah” and “shabbat.” Yir’ah is distance and shabbat is infinite closeness. These are descriptions of our relationship with the Creator of the universe, boreh ha’olam. “G-d-fearing” means to tremble before G-d’s scrutiny. How could G-d withstand our undeserving unremarkable response to the Divine Presence? We fear that He is repulsed in our answer to His gift of life for us. We know that we do not merit and we are frozen in trepidation to lose Him. Shabbat is the antidote. Shabbat means literally the family returns to its home. Within our family, G-d is so manifest. Because of G-d, we can love ethereally. Because of G-d, we know that love inside us is sublime. Our love of G-d is made tangible by the way we love our spouse. Our prayers to the Almighty are realized in our search for our soul’s partner in intimacy. Whispering our love to each other retells our prayer of thanks to the Eibishter. When I pray, I sense my wife. When I am with my wife, I feel G-d’s breath upon me.
And so is Shabbat, when we delight in our creation and partnership of creating children and family. We remember through them, watching the women light in the evening before every Shabbat. We are the kedusha of the Kiddush and the song and the melody of the night is endless, Shabbat to Shabbat. There are no barriers to the G-dly. This is the ultimate world of Eden.
Larry Leibov lived without filters. There was no barrier to his love of others. He is at once people’s father, people’s leader, people’s honesty, the very vision that we all want among us. Once he locked in on you, you were in a transported realm. He had at the same moment the capacity to turn, walk away, and distance from you without hesitation if you disgraced your image and you didn’t bring your good forward. He had no airs and there is no equal. The creation of the world was made like this and the creation of Larry’s work upheld that. That kind of salt of the earth is the humility that Moshe rabbeinu displayed. We are told that the arrogant push G-d out of the world but the humble pulls G-d in among us. We are relieved in the genuinity of Larry Liebov.
We also know that the last word of the Torah, “Israel,” does not only mean straight with G-d, but it also contains the two words “shir E-l,” the songs of G-d. The whole point of the Torah as is the whole point of life is to learn and hear the song of G-d in the world. Larry Leibov did not only pursue a life of integrity, but he lived for a life of beauty and delighted in the melody of G-d’s light. We know our privilege of being near him and we know that eternal love cannot be severed. May the Almighty embrace his soul and the bond of that Eternity. Amen. Shabbat Shalom.