Tribute from Greg’s Father, Felix

At the ‘Ramp Ceremony’ for Greg, his father Felix asked his family to encircle Greg’s coffin whilst he read the following three stories to them.

THE MAN AND HIS THREE FRIENDS.

“A CERTAIN man had three friends, two of whom he loved dearly, but the other he lightly esteemed. It happened one day that the king commanded his presence at court, at which he was greatly alarmed, and wished to procure an advocate. Accordingly he went to the two friends whom he loved; one flatly refused to accompany him, the other offered to go with him as far as the king’s gate, but no farther. In his extremity he called upon the third friend, whom he least esteemed, and he not only went willingly with him, but so ably defended him before the king that he was acquitted.
“In like manner, every man has three friends when Death summons him to appear before his Creator. His first friend, whom he loves most, namely, his money, cannot go with him a single step; his second, relations and neighbours, can only accompany him to the grave, but cannot defend him before the Judge; while his third friend, whom he does not highly esteem – his good works – goes with him before the King, and obtains his acquittal.”

THE JEWELS.

“RABBI MEIR sat during the whole of the Sabbath-day in the School instructing the people. During his absence from the house his two sons died, both of them of uncommon beauty, and enlightened in the Law. His wife bore them to her bedchamber, and spread a white covering over their bodies. In the evening Rabbi Meir came home. ‘Where are my sons?’ he asked. ‘I repeatedly looked round the School, and I did not see them there.’ She reached him a goblet. He praised the Lord at the going out of the Sabbath, drank, and again asked: ‘Where are my sons?’ ‘They will not be afar off,’ she said, and placed food before him that he might eat. When he had said grace after the meal, she thus addressed him: ‘With thy permission, I would fain propose to thee one question.’ ‘Ask it then,’ he replied. ‘A few days ago a person entrusted some jewels into my custody, and now he demands them of me; should I give them back again?’ ‘This is a question,’ said the Rabbi, ‘which my wife should not have thought it necessary to ask. What! Wouldst thou hesitate to restore to every one his own?’ ‘No, she replied; ‘but yet I thought it best not to restore them without acquainting you therewith.’ She then led him to the chamber, and took the white covering from the dead bodies. ‘Ah, my sons! My sons!’ loudly lamented the father. ‘My sons! the light of my eyes!’ The mother turned away and wept bitterly. At length she took her husband by the hand, and said: Didst thou not teach me that we must not be reluctant to restore that which was entrusted to our keeping? See-the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”

THE TWO SHIPS.

“TWO ships were once seen to be sailing near land. One of them was going forth from the harbour, and the other was coming into the harbour. Every one was cheering the outgoing ship, and every one was giving it a hearty send-off. But the incoming ship was scarcely noticed.
“A wise man was looking at the two ships, and he said: ‘Rejoice not over the ship that is setting out to sea, for you know not what destiny awaits it, what storms it may encounter, what dangers it may have to undergo. Rejoice rather over the ship that has reached port safely and brought back all its passengers in peace.’
“It is the way of the world, that when a human being is born, all rejoice; but when he dies, all sorrow.  Rather ought the opposite to be the case. No one can tell what troubles await the child on its journey into manhood. But when man has lived and dies in peace, all should rejoice, seeing that he has completed his journey, and is departing this world with the imperishable crown of a good name.”

A BOOK OF JEWISH THOUGHTS edited by Rabbi, Dr Joseph H HERTZ
Published: London 1941

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