Eulogy Samy Angel 18 June 2017 – Rabbi David Benchlouch

We are gathered here today to say farewell to our beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, friend and community leader Samy Angel- Shmuel Ben Moshe. Samy’s passing is a dear loss to us all and we pray that his neshama will have an Aliya- an elevation to the heavenly spheres of comfort, protection and warmth.

ותקרא את שמו שמואל כי מיהוה שאלתיו

“and she called his name Samuel: ‘because I have asked him of the LORD”

What would the world have looked like without Samy?

My initial acquaintance with Samy was truly unique. He made me feel welcome at his home on countless occasions while giving of his time and energy to teach me the tunes of our community. The rich and cherished tradition so immensely sacred to him and close to his heart was instantly shared and passionately taught to me until he made certain I knew them well.  He shed this magical vibrancy of love and affection. I recall thinking how warm and welcome I felt in his presence.  He had Kavod for the Torah and to Hashem that seemed uncommon. Upon my visit to him just 3 days before his passing he insisted to sit up from his bed. Unsure of his motives I waited to see what he was going to do and immediately realized how weak and tired he was when he fell asleep while seated – all that just to honour a visitor rabbi in spite of his terrible pain!

I was not surprised to hear what an unconditionally devoted and loving father Samy was to Aimy, Moshe and Albert. What makes a father special? Samy’s endless love to his children kept growing and taking new shapes and forms. Never would he say no or have something to hide from them; he was a caring and devoted father with a heart of gold. He was easy-going and understanding yet would go out of his way to imbue tradition, rituals and Jewish education unto his three children. He instilled in them the Kavod, belief, and values that he so cherished. It is on father’s day today that we can say without a doubt what an outstanding example he is to us.

He was an exceptional husband. It was only three weeks since the day they met that Samy and Lisette stood under the Chupah in Tel Aviv. And ever since, the 53 years of a grounded, healthy and stable marriage filled with unconditional love have left only fond memories of him for Lisette to reminisce and appreciate. I wish Lisette much comfort and strength and commend her for taking care of Samy with akin patience and loyalty that are rare to find. Lisette you are an Eshet Chail- you are an exemplary women of valour. I wish you a long life.

What are the many parts of Samy Angel?

Samy was born in Elisabethville, Belgian Congo, 1938 and immigrated with his family to South Africa in 1987.

Samy served both the Sephardi Community of Kinshasa and of Cape Town with sincerity and extraordinary enthusiasm. He gave days and nights to others. From renovating the synagogue to bringing Sifrei Torah on his lap from Israel to traveling through forests to retrieve body parts of fallen victims. Samy wouldn’t stop his activist personality from expressive itself. Samy was one of the rare ones. So effortlessly himself and everyone loved him for it. They say that “in life people will forget what you said, people forget what you did, but never will people forget how you made them feel.” With Samy it’s more than that, what got everyone attracted to him was his ability of being so true to himself, being good-hearted, authentic and whole. He did a lot quietly and passionately by pursuing peace and acting as a selfless man with no enemies. His acts of loving-kindness were not limited to the Jewish community, Samy was a humanist in the most sublime of ways as he helped countless people with tzedaka and support in both his time and money.

When he was president of the synagogue the Rimonim were shinning like the day they were bought. I remember him saying just a week ago “I’m thinking about Rosh Hashana- I want to polish the Rimonim again.” He would always inquire on the community and check how things are doing. He would ask me to send his regards to everyone in the synagogue and show his willingness to attend.

Samy. A gentle soul that would never hurt a person. A man who pursued peace and lived by the motto: “forgive and forget.”

Ethics of our fathers chapter 2 Mishna 13: Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai said to them: Go and see which is the good a man shall cherish most. Rabbi Eliezer said, a good eye. Rabbi Joshua said, a good companion. Rabbi Yosi said, a good neighbor. Rabbi Shimon said, foresight. Rabbi Elazar said, a good heart. He said to them: I prefer the words of Elazar ben Arach that said a good heart to your words, for in his words yours are included.

“At the end of life what really matters is not what we brought, but what we built, not what we got, but what we shared, not our competence, but our character, and not our success but our significance, You Samy, lived a life to complement just that.”

The book of Samuel 1, chapter 1 verse 20:

וַיְהִי לִתְקֻפוֹת הַיָּמִים, וַתַּהַר חַנָּה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן; וַתִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ שְׁמוּאֵל, כִּי מֵיְהוָה שְׁאִלְתִּיו.
And it came to pass, when the time was come about, that Hannah conceived, and bore a son; and she called his name Samuel: ‘because I have asked him of the LORD.’

Why did Hana the prophet name her child Samuel?
Shmuel the prophet was given that name for two reasons. The first that he has been “borrowed” from Hashem by his mother Chana, after countless failed attempts to conceive; she promised G-d she would give her child back to Him only had he granted her conception. The second explanation brought by the Kli Yakar is that Hashem has placed him- Samo- Kel.  The prophet Samuel was paralleled to Moshe and Aaron- Moshe veaharon bekohanav ushmuel bekore’ei shemo. His job was that of action, Anointing King Saul and Kind David. Fighting and eliminating Amalek and endless other efforts.

There are some of us that came to this world knowing their mission while others came seeking for the truth. It seemed as if Samy knew what needed to be done from the onset. A man of action, a man of praise.

There are three themes in Judaism for the cemetery.

Bet Hakvarot- simply a house of graves nothing beyond that.

Bet Ha’almin- the house of the worlds- where one’s soul transcends to the higher world, to Gan Eden.

Bet Hachayim- the house of life. Why the house of life? It is due in part to the life that the deceased begins to live now after his physical passing. It is also the house of life due in part to the outlook of the attendees at the funeral. How do we view this gathering? Do we let it go forgotten and dismissed or do will draw life and morals from the memory of our beloved Samy? When you continue and carry on the legacy of the deceased you are enabling them and their legacy to live on and linger.  The house of Life. Be ahchayim.

If Samy could speak to us now, what would he say? What would he like for us to change in our lives? He would want us to live a life of Torah and Mitzvot. He would beg for us to light a candle in his memory and strengthen our observance. Not a candle of resemblance, rather a candle with a fighting, kindling and active flame.  May his dear soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life. Amen.

Prayers will be held this evening through Thursday at 601 Twin Towers North at 5:30 p.m.

Please allow for the pall-bearer to lead the way with the coffin, followed by the second set of pall-bearer followed by the wife, children and immediate family.

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