We are all still reeling from the sudden tragedy that you have been taken from us when you were just 33 years old. Not a day goes by without us thinking of you, missing you, and mourning the chasm you have left behind. What does bring us great comfort, though, is the knowledge that you are enjoying a most exalted status in the olam haemes for the astonishing level in avodas HaShem and ahavas Yisroel you achieved in your lifetime; you’ve left a legacy that will forever be an inspiration to us all.
Indeed, you so perfectly embodied the names you were given at birth: Aryeh Aaron. Beginning with your second name, the Aaron HaCohen in you shone so openly and brilliantly in so many beautiful ways, as was recounted time and time again in the shiva house, when so many stories were told about you that we had till then never known. Whether it was your friend sick with cancer that you called every day without fail, or the birthday cards you would leave on your friend’s younger siblings’ bed—you showed a love for others that is simply awe-inspiring. This radiant love and commitment to others concealed from many how you embodied the lion-strength of your first name, Aryeh. In fact, however, you lived with such gevura that we are all left pondering whether we are living up to each of our own life’s mission in any comparable fashion. For the life you led is proof that beyond the possibility of achieving one’s potential, it is possible to surpass it. Yes, you, Aryeh. Your, Daf Yomi Rebbe, R’ Dovid Hofsteder was completely surprised that learning was so hard for you initially—for you had such great questions in his shiur! You basically finished the whole shas, and were looking so forward to completing it again; and you finished the parsha every week with Rashi—all the while juggling two jobs, being a uniquely devoted and hands-on Daddy, loving husband, and loyal friend to so many.
And so, we echo the sentiment of Yermiah, who at the loss of the Beis HaMikdash, cried out in astonishment, “Eicha?”—“How can it be?”—how can it be we have really lost your being in this world? It has shattered us. But we also invoke “eicha” out of a sense of wonderment at what have you have managed to achieve in your too short 33 years—we are astonished, mesmerized, heartened, and inspired by it, and will always be, for as long as we live.
We are certain you are not in any real need for more zchusim, but Shmuel has begun a project in your zchus—to broadcast audio Daf Yomi shiurim online. Your memory—your steadfast commitment and deep connection to the Daf—is the driving spirit of this project and a beacon to inspire everyone to begin or continue learning the Daf, for Hashem can now say to them—Aryeh Wise truly connected with the Daf—why can’t you?
One request from you, Aryeh: daven for us. Daven for Zissi and the children, for all of us, and for all of klall yisroel—that we should experience no more sorrow, have many reasons to rejoice, truly fulfill the ratzon Hashem—as you have done, and soon greet Mashiach who will make our joy complete.
Your Loving Family