DAY 773: In Response to the Tragic Death of Robin Williams

August 12, 2014
By bethmordecai
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DAY 773: In Response to the Tragic Death of Robin Williams

Dear Hevreh,

Many of you have heard the tragic news of the untimely death of Robin Williams, a brilliant actor and comedian whose performances have entertained millions of people. I have especially fond memories from my youth of some of his most memorable performances, including Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Hook. He’s one of the first performers I remember truly admiring. Yet his untimely and all-too-early death remind us that just because someone may be able to show great enthusiasm and joy on screen doesn’t mean that it inherently translates to how someone may feel on the inside.

There is a teaching in the Book of D’varim (Deuteronomy) that speaks to me in this moment:

(הנסתרות לה’ אלקינו והנגלות לנו ולבנינו עד עולם (דברים כט:כח)

Hanistarot la-Shem Elokeinu v’Haniglot Lanu ul-Vaneinu Ad Olam

The hidden things belong to God and the revealed things belong to us forever (Deuteronomy 29:28)

We often can’t tell what’s in someone’s heart or mind just by the way they make us smile or laugh. It’s quite possible that many of us who try to express joy on the outside are really struggling on the inside, to the point where we may not even realize just how hurt we are. That’s why this verse teaches that it is the hidden things that belong to God — only God knows what’s really in our hearts even if we struggle to understand it. We may be hidden from our darker selves, and perhaps having a strong relationship with God will help reveal those secrets to us in order to help us deal with that darker side. So as we head into the High Holiday season of contemplation and heshbon hanefesh (taking an account of our soul) let us remind ourselves that hardly anything is as simple as it seems, whether it’s the smile on someone’s face or the feelings in our own heart, and that we pray for God’s wisdom to help us accept one another and understand ourselves so that our best, beautiful selves can be revealed for all to see.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks


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