Parshat Devarim is the beginning of the end, a bunch of ends actually. The entire book of Devarim takes place over one day, the last day of Moshe’s life. It is the beginning of his last advice and rebukes to the Jews, marking the end of his leadership of the Jewish people. It is also unofficially marking the end of the wanderings of the Jews in the desert for the last forty years.
We’re told in Judaism that we really shouldn’t mourn ends. We should celebrate the events of what took place in the events before or in the case of someone’s life what they accomplished. It’s from our perspective there’s a loss and not necessarily from their’s.
There’s been quite a bit of chest beating over the loss of Rav Eliyashiv. He was the greatest legal authority for Ashkenazi Jewry and just a great loss to the entire Jewish community. Still, I’m having problems personally feeling the loss. He was 102 and left over 1,000 descendants. It would seem to me much more the occasion to celebrate a life than to mourn its passing. Still, there’s a certain place that someone of that caliber occupies that leaves a hole in our community that can’t be replaced. So on this Tisha B’Av we mourn the loss of Rav Eliyashiv and all the great tragedies we’ve had as a nation, starting with the two Temples in Jerusalem