The yahrzeit of my zaidie, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, is the 10th of Shevat. It usually comes out during the time we read the parshiyos that deal with Yetziat Mitzrayim. Last Shabbos we read Parshas Bo, which describes the last three makkot Hashem brought on Mitzrayim, and this week we are reading Parshas Beshalach, which describes the actual leaving from Egypt and the splitting of the sea.
Hashem commanded, in connection with these events, that we must tell this story over and over again to our children and to our grandchildren. From here we learn of the responsibility a grandparent has to teach not only his children but his grandchildren as well.
Zaidie would frequently tell us stories from the Gemara and teach us lessons from them. I find it amazing and so appropriate that his yahrzeit would be connected to this mitzvah. I know I speak for all my siblings and cousins when I say we had an amazing relationship with Zaidie and Bubbie. Each of us felt he or she was the apple of their eye and the most important thing in the world to them. Together they were a team. They felt their mission was to reach out and teach and tell others about the beauty of Torah – not only their children and grandchildren, but as many people as they could reach. And Hashem granted them success in their quest to spread Torah, through The Jewish Press.
Two of the first features The Jewish Press ran were Zaidie’s Tales of the Gaonim and Tales from the Medrash. Through these stories Zaidie was able to bring home the message of living a life of Torah, purity, and righteousness. But it was not just through his writings and stories that we learned how to live a Torah life. It was by his example.
Zaidie and Bubbie’s home was a home of Torah. They lived a modest lifestyle, even when Hashem blessed them with the means to live otherwise. They lived in the same house they bought when my mother was two years old. As far back as I can remember, their house had the basic necessities without ever changing to conform to any new or extravagant style.
Zaidie’s study was filled with sefarim. Although he was the publisher of a large newspaper and had many responsibilities, I always remember him learning. Any time I came to see him there was always a sefer open on his desk. He did not engage in idle conversation. If there was time for talking, it would be used for Torah; after all, what could be more interesting than discussing Torah?
In the summers when Zaidie and Bubbie would often spend their Shabbosim at the different hotels in the Catskills, Zaidie always gave a shiur. He would never go to the show on Saturday night; instead he would sit at a desk in his room and learn.
As the Torah prescribes, Zaidie and Bubbie were great ba’alei chesed. Bubbie was always on the lookout for those less fortunate. And Zaidie was always ready to assist, not only financially but with whatever influence he could offer through the pages of The Jewish Press. He was able to lend a hand to many yeshivas and other worthy institutions and organizations that utilized the paper to get the word out about their work.
In their conduct and their speech Zaidie and Bubbie sought to convey honesty and truth. Zaidie did this even when it was not economically advisable to do so or entailed taking a less than popular view on issues of the day. The Jewish Press became the voice of any Jew or Jewish cause that needed the paper’s help. Whether it was the early pioneers in the settlements in Israel, or the plight of agunot, or tzedakahs that needed funding, no issue was too big or too small. He was not looking to be politically correct. He was only interested in honesty and truth.