The news of Elie Wiesel’s death hit me like a high-speed train. Never have I been so impacted by the passing of someone I had known for so little time. Never have I had so much admiration and respect for another human being; my heart ached at the news that he is no longer with us. After experiencing much emotion associated with the loss I felt, I had to remind myself that Elie Wiesel is not in fact dead. Although he is no longer with us in tangible form, he will forever live in the pages of books he has written, the minds of people he has influenced and, most importantly, the souls of those who were fortunate enough to know him.
I was one of those fortunate people who had the honor of being in Elie Wiesel’s presence, the honor of learning from him. Every morning that Professor Wiesel walked into the classroom, all students would hold their breath in anticipation of every word he whispered. While his knowledge of the world around him was unprecedented, his sheer presence was equally inspiring. His whole being emanated a peaceful vibration of acceptance and love for humanity that touched my soul. His energy seeped into me and instantly reminded me that the only way we can live in this life is to have compassion for all of humanity. When considering what Dr. Wiesel went through in his life, his compassion is quite remarkable.
His soul emitted the highest frequency of love; it made me want to never hurt another person ever in my life. How could I, after all? He spent so much time teaching us that we are all one, that our lives are given meaning through the service we do to others, not the harm. Elie Wiesel always taught us that the most selfish people are always the least happy; they simply want more and more and yet are never satisfied. As a result, we should strive to always be grateful and to always serve others. Serving others brings us to terms with our own individuality; we are forced to look at ourselves objectively and to ask ourselves what brings meaning to us and our lives. The answer seems to lie in that each of us must find our own selves and lead by example, touching the lives of others, thereby helping humanity progress forward. We must dedicate ourselves to those around us and to always “look for the outstretched hand.”
“Looking for the outstretched hand” was something Professor Wiesel discussed on countless occasions. He believed you should always help every person you possibly can, regardless of the cost. After taking his class, I cannot walk past a homeless person on the street or someone asking for help without hearing Professor Wiesel’s voice in my head reminding me to have compassion for this person, to help this person.
Professor Wiesel spent hours and hours inspiring us all to not only be better students and writers but, more importantly, be better people. How is it that someone who has lived a life like he has can be so selfless, loving and, most of all, forgiving? Elie Wiesel truly was an angel on earth. I do not say that lightly. He was a saint, with the most pure soul one can have.
Elie Wiesel will always have a place in my heart. He taught us all to love fully and to always strive to be your best self; helping the lives of those around us. He humbled us all and taught us to always “think higher and feel deeper.”
I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to be Elie Wiesel’s student; it changed my life in more ways than are quantifiable using words. May we all remember his love.
—Alexandra Mezentsev ’16