On the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg:
May the blessing of her memory remind all of us that we many small raindrops can become a sea of change.
According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on an any holy day is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. Even more so for people who die on Rosh Hashanah, which began that evening. NPR’s Nina Totenberg explains,
“A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish new year are the ones God has held back until the last moment because they were needed most and were the most righteous.”
Among the common roots between Christianity and Justice Ginsberg’s Jewish faith is a passage in the book of Samuel 1 where Hannah is childless and Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
(Note to all husbands, do not say this EVER!)
Hannah responds with a resolve that male rabbis, priests and preacher might have easily passed over:
Samuel 1 Chapter 1 verse 9–11:
And Hannah arose after eating and after drinking, and Eli the priest was sitting on the chair beside the doorpost of the Temple of the Lord.
And she was bitter in spirit, and she prayed to the Lord, and wept.
And she vowed a vow, and said: to Lord of Hosts, if You will look upon the affliction of Your bondswoman, and You will remember me, and You will not forget Your bondswoman and You will give Your bondswoman a man-child, and I shall give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.
A rabbi paraphrased this as a one line prayer he told his friend Sheryl Sandberg which she retold during the Shiva grieving period after the passing of her husband:
“Let me not die while I am still alive”