During Adar, remember that Walter Sommers brought joy to all who encountered him

By Student Rabbi Matt Derrenbacher

The Hebrew month of Adar is supposed to be an incredibly joyous time. Our sages teach us that as the month of Adar begins, no matter how we may be feeling about life, we are to increase our joy.

But what happens when the commandment to be joyous meets the reality of loss, sorrow and pain? On Feb. 17, our community and our world lost an absolute tzadik, Walter Sommers.

Walter was the true embodiment of a tzadik, a genuinely, wholly, holy righteous person.

Walter was one of those rare humans who loved everyone. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, Walter wanted to take the time to get to know you and be your friend.

Walter was the true embodiment of a tzadik, a genuinely, wholly, holy righteous person. Like the month of Adar, Walter brought immense joy to all who encountered him.

Walter, in passing, leaves us with one more lesson

So what do we do when we are faced with such a great and devastating loss at a time where we are commanded to be joyous? Perhaps Walter has one more lesson to teach us.

We all know that Walter loved life and his love of life was contagious. Though Walter may be gone, his memory and his legacy live on through each and every one of us.

We all know that Walter loved life and his love of life was contagious.

His joyous spark for life burns brightly within each of us who had the opportunity to spend time with him.

Though we as a community are in a devastating period of mourning, we can still learn from Walter and honor him best by continuing to spread the joy for life that he held so dear.

God turns our sorrow into dancing

Psalms 30 teaches us that God turns our sorrow into dancing, undoing our garments of mourning and girding us with joy.

I like to think that in the face of this great loss, we not only have God and the month of Adar, but now Walter and his memory changing our sorrow into joy.

Student Rabbi Matt Derrenbacher will serve UHC Terre Haute during the 2021-22 academic year.

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