Last Monday morning at the close of davening, I received a call from my son, in tears, who told me that Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein had passed away. I told my son about his teacher what his teacher had told me about my father 43 years ago: “Blessed is the Judge of Truth, Baruch Dayan Emet.”
It is one thing to utter that phrase to someone who has lost a loved one. It is something else entirely for someone to utter that phrase to you as you are steeped in grief and shock about the loss of your own father.
And a close rebbe, or Torah teacher, is, says the Torah, like a father. So the circle closes: I had to tell my son about his teacher, who was also his father, what my teacher, who was also my father, told me on that terrible day in 1972 when I learned about the death of my father.