Baruch Dayan Emet | Nishmato Eden: Could the announcement of our new President-elect and Vice President-elect have been more bittersweet? As we American Jews (by an outstanding 56% margin) shouted Mazel Tov as we made Kiddush, we learned of the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
For those who may not be familiar with Rabbi Lord Sacks' life and work, Wikipedia tells us:
Jonathan Henry Sacks, Baron Sacks (Hebrew: יעקב צבי זקס; 8 March 1948 – 7 November 2020) was a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, author, and politician.
He served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. As Chief Rabbi, Sacks formally carried the title of Av Beit Din (head) of the London Beth Din. At the time of his death, he was the Emeritus Chief Rabbi.
After stepping down as Chief Rabbi, in addition to his international travelling and speaking engagements and prolific writing, Sacks served as the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and as the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University.
He was also appointed as Professor of Law, Ethics, and the Bible at King's College London. He won the Templeton Prize (awarded for work affirming life's spiritual dimension) in 2016. He was also a Senior Fellow to the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
And the JTA's Ben Harris, Cnaan Lipschitz, and Gabe Friedman write:
Jonathan Sacks, former UK chief rabbi and Jewish ‘intellectual giant,’ dies at 72
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom whose extensive writings and frequent media appearances commanded a global following among Jews and non-Jews alike, has died.
Sacks died Saturday morning at age 72, his Twitter account announced. He was in the midst of a third bout of cancer, which he had announced in October.
Sacks was among the world’s leading exponents of Orthodox Judaism for a global audience. In his 22 years as chief rabbi, he emerged as the most visible Jewish leader in the United Kingdom and one of the European continent’s leading Jewish voices, offering Jewish wisdom to the masses through a regular segment he produced for the BBC.
He had a close relationship with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called Sacks “an intellectual giant” and presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2018.
Sacks was also an immensely prolific author, addressing pressing social and political issues in a succession of well received books. His popular commentary on the prayer book, published by Koren, helped to dethrone the more traditionalist Artscroll Siddur as the preeminent prayer book in American Modern Orthodox synagogues.
Abq Jew recently wrote (see Mourning Notorious R.B.G.) about Rabbi Lord Sacks, upon the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
What life experience, advice or piece of wisdom
do you think is most important
to pass on to the next generation?
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks offered:
Wisdom is free, yet it is also the most expensive thing there is, for we tend to acquire it through failure or disappointment or grief. That is why we try to share our wisdom, so that others will not have to pay the price for it that we paid. Judaism has taught me far more about life than the space allows for here, but I do want to share with you three key lessons I have learned.
First, use your time well. Life is short, too short to waste on television, computer games and unnecessary emails; too short to waste on idle gossip, or envying others for what they have; too short for anger and indignation; too short to waste on criticizing others. “Teach us to number our days,” says Psalm 90, “that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
But any day on which you have done some good to someone has not been wasted.
One final word, offered yesterday as a hesped (eulogy) by Gila Sacks, Rabbi Sacks' youngest daughter.