I went to shul feeling sad.
I had just heard that Hagaon Harav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l, had been niftar.
I did not know Rav Dovid — I may have met him once or twice. I know Rav Dovid was a Manhig Hador. But why was I feeling especially sad?
When I was a child, I may have seen Harav Moshe, zt”l, once or twice. I was too young to be aware of or appreciate the event. But I did grow up aware and appreciating that Rav Moshe was not only Klal Yisrael’s leader, but also my leader. Unquestioned respect for Rav Moshe was to be found unanimously. There was no doubt as to his greatness. I read Rav Moshe’s biography, and lamented that I never bothered to meet Rav Moshe when I was capable of appreciating him.
What brings us closest to those who have left us? Those who were closest to them. The relationship of Yehoshua to Moshe (“Lo yamush mitoch ha’ohel”) was that of pnei Moshe k’pnei chamah, pnei Yehoshua k’pnei levanah. Yehoshua’s face was a reflection of the light of Moshe’s face. When you saw Yehoshua, it was as if Moshe himself were there.
Yitzchak Avinu and Yaakov Avinu learned from their respective fathers, Yosef Hatzaddik saw dmus diyukno of his father as if he were there. Each one was a reflection of his father, but each one carried on the family legacy by being mechadesh on his own.
This is what brought upon me an extraordinary sadness upon hearing of Rav Dovid’s petirah. Any time I would hear of Rav Dovid, or, ybl”c, his brother Harav Reuven, shlita — whether a vort they said, or a memory of theirs, or a maaseh, I would feel tremendous respect, as I heard a reflection of Rav Moshe, whose influence I sorely missed and still do. At the same time, Rav Dovid is such a tremendous loss of his own merit, his personality being that of a true son of Rav Moshe.