Can you think of any famous farewells, in history or in literature? Or famous deathbed scenes? Do you have any farewells in your own memories that you are willing to share?
In Ancient Secrets: Using the Stories of the Bible to Improve Our Everyday Lives by Rabbi Levi Meier, Rabbi Meier suggests that the farewell address of Moses in the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) is written for lasting impact, as “words of parting are perhaps remembered best.”
For more on the book of Devarim, see Ilana-Davita’s posts on that topic.
24 thoughts on “Famous Farewells”
Shakespeare’s deathbed scenes are intense visuals.
I agree on the farewell address of Moses. It’s true that parting words are usually remembered.
Indeed, Rabbi Meier quotes from Hamlet, the parting speech of Polonius to his son: “Give each many thy ear but few thy voice…Neither a borrower nor a lender be…This above all–to thine own self be true.”
In Devarim, “listen” and “hear” appear more than 70 times.
I was also thinking of Shakespeare, and Jacob of course.
Thanks for the links to my own posts.
I’m glad you mentioned Jacob. I’m guessing there are parallels between the two stories (of Moses and of Jacob), with likenesses and differences.
I have an all too vivid memory even 16 years later, of the day my husband died. I remember him sitting on the edge of the bed as the paramedics tried taking his blood pressure, he looked at me and said he loved me. The way he did, it was like he knew he was going to die.
Patty, that must have been a very difficult day for you. I’m glad he was able to say something at the end.
I remember 6 years ago I was with my father at the Atlanta airport. He was going home to Bulgaria. He visited us to see Alex – his first grandson. As they call for boarding I started crying. He said: Don’t cry – it is more difficult for me – I may never see you guys again. My father died 3 months later in a car accident. There in Atlanta airport I saw Daddy for a last time. I had no idea!
It’s never easy to lose a parent. My last communication with my father was by telephone while he was in the hospital. He passed away peacefully 2 days later in his sleep.
When I last saw my mother, she no longer had the energy to speak. But I was told that she could feel my presence.
It is difficult, but soon will be our turn – so we better make the best to make our life and our world a better place
A friend once said something similar: when you lose someone close to you, you then need to come to grips with your own mortality.
Farewells are very depressing topic! You are very brave to take the heavy baggage of our memories on yourself. Thank you for the opportunity to share!
I think not talking about sad topics is even more depressing. Comforting to share difficult times, like we are all human.
IMHO, one of the most poignant Biblical farewells is a symbolic one: Rachel Immenu emerges from her grave and cries as “her children” – i.e. the Jewish people – are forced into exile. (See the beautiful and touching Rashi on Breishit 48:7. It’s very appropriate for this time of year.)
“And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died unto me in the land of Canaan in the way, when there was still some way to come unto Ephrath; and I buried her there in the way to Ephrath–the same is Beth-lehem.’ ”
Thanks, Mrs. S. – it’s on my list of Rashis to read.
Here’s an English translation of Rashi:
Scroll down to verse 7 – under the words, “and I buried her there”.
Ah, another good deed by Chabad, creating a site with Rashi English translation online. Thanks, Mrs. S.
Shortly before he was killed by a Confederate sniper at the Battle of Spotsylvania, Gen. John Sedgwick said,
“Why, my man, I am ashamed of you, dodging that way,” and repeated the remark, ” They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”
Thanks for sharing that – a story I would not have known.
I remember learning in my “Jewish class” about why the ending of Devorim, by Moshe’s death is so important. It was something I don’t remember learning in High School. She said that it ends off saying “Lo Kam Kimosha Od”. So that later on people can’t say that they are the new person that G-d talked to, and so they can’t say there’s a new chosen people and a new bible.
Thanks for the input on the parsha.
My grandmother when she passed was very memorable. If death can be good, hers was a good passing..
Thank you for the good memory. I have good feelings about your grandmother (though why am I wondering if it is your paternal or maternal grandmother, based on your dealings with your mother…)