By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Last week, I started my dear wife’s life story with what I thought was most important: How she made shalom bayis her most important mission in life. Now however, I think we should start from the very beginning. My shver, father in-law, Mr. Aharon Gelbtuch, Zt”l, Zy”a, lived in Lemberg, Poland. He was married to a fine woman of Chassidishe background. In those days, many of the women played piano for personal recreation and relaxation. My shver’s wife, z”l, Hashem yinkom damah, may Hashem avenge her blood, was known as a piano phenom. But as a modest woman, she never performed. Somehow, the Nazis found out about her expertise and forced her one evening to come and play piano for a group of Nazis in a bar. With no choice, my father in-law took their little daughter with them and they went to a pub to perform for the Nazis. After she played the first song, the crowd was so mesmerized that they stood and gave her a standing ovation. This was too much for the Nazi commander to tolerate, and he took out his gun and, in front of my father in-law, he took out his gun and shot her in the face at point blank range. Still in a rage, he took out another gun fitted with a bayonet and rammed it into their young daughter’s chest, killing her as well on the spot. My shver would tell me that he doesn’t know why, but they let him go home.
He survived the war, emigrated to America, and as a 50 year-old, went out with a fine woman that was about the same age as he. They were ready to get married, but as a good chassidische Yid, he went first to the Kapitchnitzer Rebbe, Zt”l, Zy”a, to ask for his blessing. The Rebbe asked him how old the woman was and when he replied that she was in her early 50s, the Rebbe stunned him and told him that in no uncertain terms he could not marry her. When my shver asked why, he was told by the Rebbe that he must marry a bas bonim, a woman of child bearing age, so that he could rebuild what he has lost during the Holocaust. My shver persisted that he didn’t want to marry a younger woman and maybe have to leave her a young widow. The Rebbe told him that we don’t involve ourselves in the secrets of Hashem but that he had to rebuild his family. So, as a loyal chossid, he listened and went out with my future mother in-law, Devorah, Zt”l, Zy”a, who was 17 years younger. My beloved wife, Miriam Libby, Zt”l, Zy”a, was born when he was 59 years old. The rest is history.
We should reflect upon the fact that if my shver would have not listened, or even more importantly, not asked, their three daughters and countless grand-children and great grand-children would never have come to be. How important it is to have a spiritual guide in our lives and to learn how to listen even when it’s difficult! Incidentally, my shver would outlive his wife, passing away in our home at the ripe old age of 82.
May it be the will of Hashem, in the merit of our having a Rav or other spiritual mentor, that we should be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Please learn, give tzedaka, and daven l’iluy nishmas of Miriam Liba bas Aharon.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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