While this is not along the lines of the routine at the Michtavim blog, I think that if you are a communal leader/educator, rabbi, parent, or sibling, then you will find this essay particular powerful and important to read and share with others. My friends Noah and Nava (Pincus) Greenfield co-authored this essay together with Nava's parents and siblings following the shloshim, earlier this week, of Avi Pincus z'l, who died last month of a drug overdose at the young age of twenty-six.
Dying to Recover: The Life and Loss of Avi PincusBy Rabbi Dr. Gershon and Kirbie Pincus, Rabbi Dr. Elie and Aliza Feder, Noah and Nava Pincus Greenfield, and Chaviva PincusThis past Monday, we marked the shloshim of our beloved son and brother, Avi Pincus ע''ה, who just a few weeks ago – at the tragic young age of twenty-six – died of a drug overdose. Death by overdose is not uncommon in the Orthodox community, but when it does occur families often cover up the cause of death due to denial, shame, and perceived social pressure. This denial, shame and its subsequent whitewashing is not limited to the death of the loved one, but often extends also to that person's life. And it is not only something of which the families of the addict are guilty. Our Jewish community as a whole looks down with derision and disgrace at the addicts among us.We believe that this outlook and attitude are the wrong ones to take. We believe that such ostracization is a mistaken, destructive and often fatal force. We are not ashamed of Avi. We take deep pride in his life; we sympathize greatly with his pain; and we stand in awe of his heroic struggle to overcome his addiction.
Read the entire essay here.
Click here for a PDF of the version that appeared in this recent Hamodia weekend edition, on page C32. Note, as well, the important addendum (on the bottom of the page) by the world-renowned expert on addiction, Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, entitled: 'Is Addiction Genetic?' where he begins with:
'The Family of Avi has done an immense favor to the community by disclosing the tragedy of his condition and that people who recover from addiction may be thought of as 'baalei teshuvah who may stand higher than even complete tzaddikim.'
May the Pincus family be consoled amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and, as they conclude the essay:
'If only the Jewish community would learn a little from the life and loss of our dear son and brother, Avi – to be more caring of others, more sensitive to the pain around us, and more appreciative of the difficult circumstances in which so many find themselves – perhaps we would lose fewer of our sons and brothers.'