Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Tens of thousands will accompany Rabbi Shalom Cohen to his final resting place today after he passed away last night at the age of 91. Rabbi Cohen was head of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva and president of the Council of Torah Sages. I first heard him speak years ago when I was sent as a young reporter to cover a convention of the Shas (Sephardic religious) party.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was scheduled to speak at the convention hall but, prior to his arrival, Rabbi Cohen got up to speak. In those days I was mainly interested in finding political headlines in the speeches of Shas leaders, but I do not recall any such headlines that came out of that event. Instead, a powerful Torah thought on faith and trust in God was expressed.
Rabbi Cohen spoke in a thunderous voice as he quoted the Torah passage which describes how Miriam stood on the banks of the Nile River while her brother Moshe floated in a basket.
"And his sister stood from afar to see what would happen to him." He repeated the passage and explained as follows:
Miriam was not just standing there. She stationed herself at a distance but stood erect without fear. She knew that everything would turn out well. After all, she was a prophetess and she knew that all the prophecies regarding the Exodus from Egypt would come true. She did not stand there anxiously waiting, but only wanted to know how salvation would come and also in order to act and help if necessary. In the end, Pharaoh's daughter came to bathe in the Nile and saw Moshe in his basket. MIriam approached and suggested that he should be raised by his mother in his first years of life, and that is what happened.
"We must believe and know with absolute certainty that ultimately everything will turn out well,." the rabbi proclaimed. "And that we are only standing from a distance to see how the Holy One blessed be He will work out the details, while we just need to be ready to do our part. This, in fact, describes the attitude we need to adopt towards the entirety of life."
I remember that same night conveying this thought to a single woman who, in search of a shidduch but no longer young, found encouragement in the words emphasized in the rabbi's speech:
"And his sister stood from afar to see what would happen to him."
In his memory.