The wound is still fresh.
The pain is still raw.
The picture of a smiling Aaron Sofer haunts us with the knowledge that it’s only a memory, for that radiant face is no longer with us. We hoped and davened for his return, but Hashem had other plans: He wanted him returned to Him.
The weeklong saga of finding Aaron brought out the best of acheinu bnei yisroel. Yidden across the globe representing its many shades and communities gathered in unison to daven, accept kabbalosand draw closer to Hashem as a zechus for Aaron. Aaron’s family drew tremendous chizuk from this outpouring which continues to inspire them as they try to move forward from this tragedy.
At the Atzeres Hisorerus this Sunday, Tzom Gedaliah, marking Aaron’s shloshim, the Lakewood community gathered en masse at Ne’emas Hachayim Hall to learn from Aaron’s exemplary derechhachayim that he led during his short stay among us, and to inaugurate the campaign that will perpetuate his memory.
Aaron was described by his father, Rav Moshe Sofer, as the consummate ben aliya. A bochur who constantly strove to better himself, as evidenced by the numerous kabbalos the family found written among his personal papers. He started off with small kabbalos, learning straight for just a couple of minutes. At a later time, he added a few more minutes. Eventually, he was able to keep his eyes completely focused on the Gemara for an entire seder. Such is the koach of small kabbalos for someone who is constantly striving higher.
This drive propelled him to help others in any way possible. His zest for life was contagious, helping friends in their learning, or just being of help in the right place at the right time. He didn’t hesitate to pick up the broom and sweep the house or do all sorts of chores in the yeshiva to help others.
To perpetuate this great legacy of pure Torah and chessed, the Sofer family announced the start of a Sefer Torah campaign in memory of Aaron, and the purchase of a Hachnosas Orchim home that will be available for those in need. This will keep Aaron’s spirit alive for years to come in the way he perfected himself.
Reb Benzion Oiring of ZAKA who was intimately involved in the search efforts from the moment that Aaron was declared missing, summed up the point of the campaing.
“Nobody can fill the void the Sofer family feels,” Rav Oiring declared, but “we can give comfort and support to the family taking part in these mitzvos in his memory.”
Rav Oiring provided his perspective on the achdus and concern that propelled so many to volunteer their time and resources in the search efforts. When Aaron was found, he was able to tell his chashivus just by how he was dressed and by his appearance as a bona fide yeshiva bochur.
“Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe and Mesivta of Lakewood, noted how people like Aaron live for olam habbah. Their actions on this world bespeak a higher calling, a calling for ruchniyos and kiddush shem shomayim. Our main purpose on this world is to create kiddush shem shomayim, and Aaron created that through his life’s work and the tremendous outpouring of achdus tefilla and chizuk. We can continue that, he declared, through the Torah and chessed the family is undertaking in his memory.
As the large crowd filed solemnly out of the main ballroom to the hallway, they were greeted by a picture of a smiling Aaron Sofer, next to tables filled a light snack to break their fast, and a large bowl that was quickly filling up with bills and receipts for this most worthy cause.
Acheinu bnei yisroel who were inspired by Aaron and wish to take part in this great mitzvah can donate HERE.
May the zechus of Aaron ben Moshe Tzvi stand for us all for a Gemar Chasima Tova.