Eulogy for David Azoulay
Written by Rabbi Lior Bar-Ami
Translated into English by Gabrielle Kirsch
September 10th, 2017
A young man has left this planet. A planet on which he felt at home. Even if this man seemed sometimes somber and scared. The shell, the body, the exterior is again in the ground, but the soul, the spirit, the essence, and all that is essential is already elsewhere, on a trail of stairs in the director of eternal rest, in the direction of salvation.
We always believe that there is only one planet. That which we see, hear, think, feel, and also that which every other citizen on the earth can see, hear, think, and feel. In reality, we are all our own planets. Until recently, there was only planet called David Azoulay. Each planet has its own laws, sometimes we have enough of the same perceptions and sentiments that we say, “yes, this is how it is.” Since we all feel so similar, this is how it is.
And sometimes, each of our planets, like our earth, has different continents. Some continents with different languages and cultures. Some continents with different interests and religions. Some continents with different music. Some continents with different sports. And sometimes, there are those near that shine to the light of the day and other parts of our planet that are somber jungles. But all of these continents are part of our planet. And on each of these continents, we allow different types of people to come visit us.
It’s similar to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. Someone arrives on a strange planet that they did not know at the beginning and see completely new things, totally different realities in the line of time. A planet with a sheep, a planet with a king, a planet with a lamppost and the lights of the lampposts.
The planet called David Azoulay was very special! With a lot of secrets to discover and a lot of pieces that were not discovered by anyone. Some parts that were hurt and painful. But this was a planet where a lot of people from a lot of corners of our earth were visitors. A rich planet in friends, rich in different cultures, rich in resources whose landlord was happy to share with others because he was very humble. A planet with a landlord who was calm and reserved and could enchant his visitors with his warmth, his special humor, and his deep affection. This was his planet. David Azoulay’s planet.
In The Little Prince, there is a businessman who only wants stars. “That will make me rich,” he says. “And what will being rich do for you?” asks the little prince. “I’ll buy other stars, if someone finds more,” says the businessman.
David Azoulay didn’t want to be rich. David Azoulay wanted to share what he had with his friends. David did not want to be materially rich. David wanted to be rich in people and in friendship. In walking his planet, he received people and friends that he met in his numerous studies. And he wanted to work towards a just world and an open Judaism that David brought to the World Congress. On his continent, he worked with you all from all over the world. During his orbital travels, he created this continent. This continent connected a lot of people as it connected to David. Here, he found friends. Here, he could be as he was, with all the facets of his identity.
But there were also somber jungles on David’s planet. These jungles were rooted profoundly in his life and in his past. And these jungles were the places where pain and fear reigned. Sometimes, he lost himself in these jungles, but left from it stronger and more ferocious. But a few weeks ago, he lost the battle and lost himself in these jungles. He helped others when they were in need, possibly lost in their own jungles, but he could no longer fight for himself.
“You understand,” said the little prince, “that’s too far away. I cannot carry this body there. It’s too heavy. But that will be like a shell, old and abandoned. Old shells are not sad.”
The planet called David Azoulay left its orbit and began its journey towards its last destination. A path that was taken too early. A path that we cannot understand. A path that shocks us. A star that is no longer shining and that rests for us in our affectious memories of the planet, his path in orbit, our visits on this planet, that is now en route towards its resting place.
Bon voyage, my dear David, may you have a pleasant ride and a soft landing.