Tale’lei Chaim - In Memory of Reb Dr. Tali Skoczylas A”H

Taken from the "Hesped" given by Moreinu Harav Ben Zion Hacohen Kook Shlita, the head of the Beit Hora’ah Klali of Jerusalem during the funeral procession. 9 Sivan 5769, Beit Shemesh Israel

There are people and there are people. All people die when the time comes. Some need eulogies and overstatements to bring out their accomplishments. And some do not need obituaries at all. 

Our sages, Chaza”l, said: “Souls are not made for the righteous. Their words are their memory.” ‘Souls’ – that’s the tombstone. The righteous do not need a stone monument, not even a magnificent monument made of precious marble, because the tombstone is still and standing. Their words are their memory. Their talk, their good manners, their children— they are their glorious tombstone. 

Reb Tali, 

You do not need obituaries, not even a tombstone, not even stories. Your family, your children and your good deeds are the most glorious obituary, the most glorious tombstone. You have merited together with your wife, who should live a long and good life, to build a beautiful family that continues on your straight and pure path. This is the greatest honor. This is the greatest reward in heaven. 

The pain is immense and terrible. At the peak of a rich and full life, with such a young and happy spirit, a deadly and brief illness. Just like a sun that is suddenly setting at the heat of the day.  

Your devotion to uncompromising observance of the commandments began at a young age. As you testified about yourself that at first you had doubts, but you decided and accepted: “I am not going to live as a Jew with compromises.” 

As a young student at a medical school in Mexico, you faced obstacles to keep the Sabbath. Just like the test that was scheduled for the midst of Yom Tov, and the threat that “whoever does not take the test will have failed the course.” Your friends were already thinking of giving in, but you didn’t bend, saying: “What are you afraid of? Let’s all stand together and decide not to come!”

These rights are engraved at the throne of honor in Heaven.

You would walk on Shabbos to the synagogue, a two- hour round trip, and many times in severe weather, snow and rain. 

In that desolate area there was no Mikveh. To get to the nearest one, you had to travel ten hours back and forth.  It was you who decided, that a local Mikveh must be built. Once again, without hesitation or fanfare, a new Mikveh was constructed. 

The doctor of the great Rabbis in Israel

Dr. Tali practiced Geriatric medicine. He practiced it for a living but did it wholeheartedly. Many patients from across the United States were treated by him. He remembered each and every one of his patients, their medical history and the medications they were taking. And when the patients called him, he did not have to look up anything on the computer; it was all in his mind.

How is that possible? The answer: every patient was engraved in his heart and mind, and just as a person remembers his own family’s health issues, Dr. Tali remembered the medical details of his patients. 

Unfortunately, we all hear about the treatment that elderly patients receive in hospitals and nursing homes. Many doctors feel that ‘the old patient has already lived long enough”. Therefore, the attitude is one of indifference and dismissiveness. But Reb Dr. Tali believed that elderly patients should continue to live for a long time, and rightfully so, he won the trust of the greatest Rabbis in Israel and felt honored to have the merit to take care of them. 

We all thank you for the devotion and dedication you showed in treating our Rav Elyashiv, ZTz”l. During each visit to Israel in recent years, Dr. Tali would look for any possible treatment or medication, using his extensive knowledge to try to alleviate Rav Elyashiv’s suffering. Similarly, Dr. Tali offered his medical advice to other distinguished elderly Rabbis, such as the late Rabbi Wazner and others.

Dr. Tali had a constant regal smile on his face, which lifted the spirits of, not only his sick patients, but also every human being he came in contact with. I was fortunate to get to know Reb Tali, and it was a pleasant experience to meet and see his incredible love for Torah and good deeds.  

It is written in the Midrash, Rashi in Parashat Vayra (Genesis 18:19) in the name of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai, that whoever merits to have a son who toils in Torah learning, does not really die.”

Rabbi Yaakov Skoczylas stated here: “Although my father was involved in working for a living, he always gave me the encouragement and reinforcement to continue on the path of Torah study, helping and supporting me and my family. My father had an incredible appreciation for the importance and praise of Torah.”

On Purim last year, Reb Tali was in Jerusalem and joined the students at the special Purim Kollel. At the end of the session, he was also given the stipend that each student who studied there received. He took the check with great joy; of course he did not redeem the check but kept it as a souvenir and said in excitement: “I too was privileged to be a kollel student for once in my life”.

The purpose of the obituary

Our sages write that the purpose of the obituary is to be strengthened by it, that those who hear the obituary will be strengthened by it in Torah and mitzvos. These stories should teach us all. Moreover, Dr. Tali testified himself that it was because of all the challenges he encountered and succeeded in fighting for every drop of Yiddishkeit, that he felt so successful throughout his life.

Sometimes we go through difficulties. Dr. Tali stated: Fellow Jews, these difficulties are gifts from heaven. If you merit living through the storm, you will have success in this world and build the foundation for the next world. 

Reb Tali, you were always immersed in the book of Psalms, and departed from the world near the day of the death of King David. His right will protect you and your dear family members and especially your wife, who should have a good and long life for many years to come.

Our sages of blessed memory say: The commandment of honoring your father and mother continues even after the death of the father. In the Holy Zohar he explains how this is observed after the death of the father, that when the sons engage in Torah and mitzvos and do good deeds, they put the Father in heaven on a throne and all the righteous in heaven stand around him and honor him by saying: The sons of Dr. Tali continue in the way of the Father, in the way of Torah, love of kindness, charity and beautiful hospitality. This right will stand for him in heaven. 

Go in peace and rest in peace. And Hashem will wipe away a tear from every face and we will all say Amen.