By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
In Megilas Rus, the posuk tells us, “Vateitzei min hamakom asher haysah shomah,” that Naomi with her two daughters in-law left from the fields of Moav. Rashi asks why the posuk has to repeat this, since it just said, “Vatashav ms’dei Moav,” that Naomi returned from the fields of Moav. Rashi answers with the fundamental theme that when a tzadik leaves a place, it is noticeable and it leaves a big hole. As Rashi eloquently elaborates, when the tzadik departs, “Pana ziva, pana hadara – Her shine is missing, her glow is gone.” Rashi in Chumash gives the same explanation when it says, “Vayeitzei Yaakov miBeir Shavah.” There also, Rashi comments that when Yaakov left, his shine and his glow were sorely missed.
With the departure of my Rebbetzin to Heaven, all those who merited knowing her acutely feel the loss of her shine and glow. Recently, when I spoke at the Lag B’omer bonfire put together by HaRav Pollack, Shlit”a, in Staten Island, many people came over to me and reminisced how last year my Rebbetzin was at the bonfire. Although she came in a wheelchair, wrapped in a blanket, they remembered her excitement at being there. One woman told me how she remembered that my Rebbetzin asked her about her brother who was having a surgery the next day. It was like people remembered her glow and her warmth more than last year’s fire.
A few weeks ago, I walked into the annual Bikur Cholim breakfast at the Young Israel of Staten Island. For decades, my wife would get there earlier than me as I would first say my Sunday morning Daf Yomi and arrive later. This was the first time she wasn’t there to save a seat for me, to have a hand-picked breakfast ready for me, and to greet me with a warm, “Hey Rabbi, your seat is waiting for you.” So many people commented to me how much her bright shining countenance was missing.
What causes this glow, this aura, this shine? When my wife walked into the breakfast with its many hundreds of people, it wasn’t with the thought of indulging in the array of delectable treats at the breakfast display. It certainly wasn’t to show off a new dress or sparkling jewelry. Truthfully, it wasn’t even so much to listen to the speeches. It was to see her many friends and find out how they were doing. Before she was even seated, she wanted to know how someone’s mother was doing, if there’d been any recent shidduchin for another one’s daughter, and how, she would ask a third, preparations were going for the chasuna. And, it would be nonstop as people vied to sit next to her.
For many, many years, the porch of our bungalow at Sun Circle in South Fallsburg, was the place to be Friday night when all of the men were in shul. She wanted to know how everyone’s week was, and her sincere interest and concern about everyone else’s life truly radiated. Oh, how everyone will miss her glowing presence this coming summer.
At the Tehillim group on Monday nights, where she reigned for decades and excitedly reported about this tzedaka and that opportunity to help someone, her shine is missing. Behind the mechitza at the Aguda of Staten Island, where she taught young girls what to say when they came in late, where she helped someone with a wheelchair get comfortable or a stranger feel like she was wanted, there is a gaping black hole.
May we merit to ignite our own personal shine and glow by living not just for ourselves but for those around us and in that merit may Hashem bless us 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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