The most common signs found posted to the walls of buildings at intersections are black and white posters announcing the ptira (death) of someone. If the person is relatively unknown, the posters are only found in the immediate area. If they are announcing the ptira of a well-known figure, the signs might be found all over the city. The reason for this, as well as the occasional cars driving around with loudspeakers announcing levaya (funeral) times and locations is because of the care taken for the dead. As we do not wish to prolong the suffering of a soul by being torn out of a body, and continuously witnessing the dead body laying here and there, we try to bury the person as soon as possible, preferably on the day of death. These signs were seen recently here in Yerushalayim upon the ptira of Rav Avraham Ravitz, a notable MK (member of the Knesset, or Israeli parliament) and one of the political leaders of the ultra-Orthodox political party.
The same came again this morning, with the loss of a great member of the Jewish people. Sometime between last night and this morning, Harav Noach Weinberg, zt"l, was niftar (passed away). Harav Weinberg was the Rosh Yeshiva and founder of the famous Aish HaTorah yeshiva, which has yeshiva and outreach branches across the world. While controversial, Harav Weinberg is responsible for countless Jews returning to devoted, religious lives. For the past 50 years, this holy leader of the Jewish people led the kiruv (outreach) organization of Aish HaTorah, helping to bring Torah to all of the Jewish world.
While addressing this weeks parsha (Torah portion), the holy Noam Elimelech notes that because Yosef (Joseph) followed on the path of his father Yaakov (Jacob), the holiness and capability of Yaakov was transfered to his son. This, says the Noam Elimelech, is the reason that while Yaakov's body was returned to eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel) for burial, Yosef continued to live in Mitzrayim (Egypt) and was initially "buried" there. When the Torah notes that Moshe (Moses) brought the bones of Yosef with him out of Mitzrayim, it says that Yosef told the Jewish people that through this, G-d would remember them. The Noam Elimelech takes this to mean that in the rememberance and merit of Yosef, the Jewish people would also be zoche (merited) to receive tremendous acts on their trek.
Jewish tradition relates that when G-d was preparing for kriyas yam suf (the splitting of the Sea of Reeds), the angels told G-d not to help the Jewish people, as they were idol worshippers. (This is understood to mean that they did not believe in the fullness of Divine Providence, or hashgacha pratis.) However, we know that "the sea saw, and it split", meaning that it saw the coffin of Yosef, and Moshe, the leader of the Jewish people, who had also reached the level of Yosef and Yaakov. Because of the great devotion, spirituality, and level of Yosef and the new leader Moshe, the sea automatically split, because Creation knew that with the leadership of such a tzadik (righteous person), the Jewish people themselves would also be transformed.
In the memory of such a great pilar of the Jewish world (Harav Noach Weinberg, zt"l), may we be moved to also dedicate ourselves to bringing the light of Torah to darkened lives, that we may all be zoche to see the ultimate and final redemption now, in our days.