Tribute to Marc Weinberg z"l.
Comments at the end of my shiur. Erev iyun at Ramban shul – 18 July 2010 / 8 Av 5770
This evening, chaverim, we have discussed tragedy, death, destruction, pain, suffering, collapse, disintegration. We have discussed it on the national scale.
However all these words seen apt at describing the terrible afflictions of cancer that gripped the body of my dear friend and talmid, Marc Weinberg, in these recent years, until his tragic death, at the start of this "3 weeks" period.
I do not want to talk of the pain. In truth I prefer not to reflect on the broken twisted body that was forced to withstand all the torture and suffering of Iyov – and Marc held forth so gallantly and heroically. I prefer to recall the Marc Weinberg full of vitality - with his immaculate sense of fashion, his beloved suntan and his Sunday morning football game.
For many of you who did not know him, let me say a few words. On the one hand, this shiur is highly appropriate for Marc's memory. In a way, it is at variance with him.
It is matched to him because Marc loved Tanakh, limmud Torah, and particularly, giving Tanakh a structure, a pattern. Whenever I spoke to Marc, even in the latter months of his illness when he was seriously sick, he would ask me: "any new books that I should know about?" He loved getting to the core of the methodology of things. Marc was an educator to the core. He worked as a highly successful banker and financier. And yet, he spent evenings and Sunday afternoons teaching young people. He loved nothing more than taking really intelligent (but Judaically unlearned) kids and teaching them how to learn. Not just teaching them but giving them learning tools and a thirst for knowledge. A good shiur was one which had a clear methodology, order, system, and this is what he wished to impart to his students.
In one of our final conversations Marc related to me so excitedly how he had begun to teachTanakh and Judaism to the Hiloni son of a neighbour in Modiin , excited at how bright and well-read he was, and devastated at his dearth of Judaic education.
But in other ways this shiur is mismatched to Marc. I don't know which aspect of God Marc would have identified with: God as Judge, enemy or source of faith. That חשבון Marc can take up with the Ribbono shel Olam. God knows that Marc would have a long list of legitimate complaints to take up with Him.
But Marc was not a philosopher or a theologian. Marc was a do-er. He was a magnetic personality. People warmed up to him. But how did he use his charisma? Once again, we can talk about Marc and methodology. Marc believed living life according to principles, and he was proud of these principles and ethics – his Modern Orthodoxy, his commitment to intelligent Talmud Torah, Religious Zionism, Derekh Eretz, community, personal integrity. He spent time figuring out how things worked, and then he set to work. He took these foundational principles, and as he developed his confidence over the years, he applied them in the world of finance, community building, Zionism and Aliyah etc.
He acted. He built a shul. He had a Hashkafa that he was passionate about and knew that he could put it into place, and did. He was determined to establish a vibrant young Modern Orthodox, Religious Zionist congregation in London. He did it. He was devastated to see Jews' College become a right-wing institution and yearned to see it as a hub of real education and inclusiveness, a forum for Modern Orthodox speakers and text-study. He built that. People who came to the shiva saw his daily lists which outlined his aims and objectives, his achievements and accomplishments, but most simply, his daily tasks, his list of people to be in touch with. This was a man on a mission. He developed a phenomenal network of contacts through his intelligence, hard work and integrity and most importantly his care and sensitivity, And he leveraged this network to help people - finding jobs for people, and when he had a new project to put into place, he knew precisely who could play every role. His confidence gave people an assurance that the project would work.
There are two types of response to tragedy. One is in the theological realm, but Marc would have said that the response to destruction is to build, and better not to let it be destroyed in the first place. To build our world.
May his family: Natalie, Yona and Maayan; Syma and Henry, Debra and Aviad, have much nechama from the realization that he did so much for so many people. May this be the end of any suffering for their family and may the passage of time ease their grief and allow them to move onwards and to smile at life (and may life smile at them!) And may we learn from the figure of Marc Weinberg z"l that we should not underestimate our power, our ability to shape and build the world around us.
p.s I found an email that Marc sent me which exemplifies exactly what I said above. It was sent on the day his eldest daughter Yona, started school:
01/9/09 Education Question
Today was Yona's first day of Kita Aleph.
This made me think how I can contribute to supplement her Limudei Kodesh. I love
structures and things I can follow. She cannot yet read hebrew fluently but she
says Tefilla and I could help with her general knowledge but have been doing so
without any structure .... I sort of want to know a program for the next few
years of goals I should be achieving with her..."
May his memory be a blessing.
That email echoes much of what I said here.