Thank you, Mauricio!


Eulogy delivered by Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov in honor of

Mauricio —Moshe A"H ben Reuben— Levitin


January 27, 2021

Cementerio Israelita de la Paz, Uruguay


All of us here undoubtedly have the same question: "Why?”


One of Mauricio’s outstanding characteristics was: he knew how to ask intelligent questions. He did not waste time with sterile questions. He asked questions that would lead him to productive answers.


The question "why?" has no answer.


The question Mauricio would undoubtedly ask is: "What, now?"


Where do we go from here?


About three weeks ago I proposed to Mauricio a study plan based on the weekly Bible reading. I didn't quiz him every week, but if he was up to date, yesterday he would have read about how Moses parted the Sea of Reeds so that the Jewish people could escape the Egyptian armies that were pursuing them. [1]


I think it kind of sums up who Mauricio was. Mauricio, Moshe, like his namesake, had outstanding leadership and "sea-splitting" qualities. He knew how to accomplish what others could not or could not even imagine. Rules and precedent did not intimidate him.


Mauricio always had a smile on his face.


Is there anyone here who remembers him without a smile on his face?


It wasn't just a happy smile; it was one of mockery. He laughed at problems. Problems were nothing more than challenges to be overcome and opportunities to be grabbed. His question was not whether or not something he wanted could be done, but how best to get it done.


To give just one example of many: it was thanks to Mauricio that —against all odds— the willow branches arrived in Montevideo in due time and form this year so that we could all celebrate Sukkot as G-d commanded us. I mention it at this moment so that you, Mauricio, can take it with you as a souvenir and special merit, among so many others.....


We all feel that Mauricio lived a short life. Perhaps we can say that his life was not short, but fast. Mauricio achieved in his short time with us what others cannot accomplish in ten lifetimes.


Mauricio spearheaded the Uruguayan efforts to protect us against the pandemic on the earthly plane. I am sure that where he is now, he will be agitating for G-d to do His part to eradicate the pandemic.


Generally, in this hallowed space I say that we are here to accompany a loved one to their final resting place. I was thinking on my way here that today it is not entirely so. Today we are not just burying Mauricio but a piece of each one of us. Mauricio carried all of us in his heart. Also, inside each one of us there is something of Mauricio. So he is not completely gone. We will bury his body, but he lives on inside each one of us. If we can live our lives in a more inspired, more "a la Mauricio" way, it would not only be a fitting tribute to him; it would be a way to perpetuate his life, presence and impact.


Those who want to, can subscribe to the latest study program that Mauricio had started, namely, the weekly Bible reading. Not only will they benefit personally, it would also be a way to fill some aspect of the great void he left behind.


In today's Bible reading [2] that Mauricio would be studying according to the program, we read how, after having crossed the sea of Reeds, Moses led the people in a song of praise and thanksgiving to G-d. Our sages [3] detect here a reaffirmation of the future resurrection of the dead: the text opens with the words Az Yashir Moshe, "then Moshe will sing" —in the future tense— rather than saying Az Shar "then Moshe sang", as would be more correct were it only the documentation of something that happened in the past. So from today's biblical reading we have the reaffirmation that we are not saying "goodbye, Mauricio", but "see you soon".


To Mauricio’s parents, Ruben and Lili, here with us now, I want to humbly suggest that you try to temper your unimaginable pain by a deep satisfaction and pride in Mauricio's achievements. His life would not have been what it was if not for the way you raised him and the love you showered him with. How long one lives, is up to G-d. How one lives that life depends largely on the upbringing provided by his or her parents.


To Olga, Mauricio’s “Eshet Chayil”, Woman of Valor, Number One fan and supporter: there are those who say that behind every successful man there is a shocked woman. No doubt in your case, although proud, you were not very surprised by Mauricio’s achievements, being the active partner that you were in everything that he did and undoubtedly responsible for much of his success and stability.


I extend my condolences to the Safra family represented here by the matriarch, Mrs. Chella Safra, Olga's mother and Mauricio's mother-in-law.


May the Almighty give you all the necessary strength to cope with these painful and challenging moments.


May Mauricio's soul be united to the source of life and may he be an effective and efficient intercessor before the Heavenly Throne to open abundant sources of blessings for his family, community as well as for all mankind. May we all soon merit to meet again at “home”, in Yerushalayim, led by the imminent arrival of Mashiach.


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1. Exodus 14:15—26

2. Exodus 14:26—15:26

3. Sanhedrin 91b