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A Small Tribute To A Giant Mensch


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My husband and I were honored to attend a Hachnassas Sefer Torah celebration this summer at our upstate summer home in Elm Shade Estates.

We have had a summer home for many years. We were always privileged to have a special, devoted friend take care of all the things that needed attention there – from ensuring that the grass was cut to keeping the shul spotless for Shabbos.

No one was aware of all of the behind-the-scenes efforts by our friend. Everything seemed to be done effortlessly.

Our friend would ride around on his old bike, attending to his chores. He didn’t expect others to be involved. No deed was too menial or too overwhelming.

Unfortunately, this tzaddik passed away in his sleep last summer.

It was only at his levayah that we began to discover the scope of his greatness. Over 1,000 people came to pay tribute to him. There, strangers spoke of his kindness and good deeds. Only then did we begin to understand the giant of a man he had truly been.

At the shivah, guests related a myriad of stories of our friend’s chesed. He had never wanted any fanfare. When he saw a needy family, he assisted them in any way he could. He would have their house painted for free, or secretly pay their grocery bills.

This summer, on the Friday before Shabbos Nachamu and a few days after his yahrzeit, his family dedicated a Sefer Torah for our shul. (We proudly renamed our shul for this great and humble man.) We had always borrowed a Sefer Torah, but now we had our very own one. We plan to make it available to the Misaskim organization, which will take it to shivah houses throughout the year.

The Sefer Torah celebration was remarkable, as we were joined by our neighbors from the adjacent Krula bungalow colony. The Krula Rebbe, with his Spinker chassidim, joyously participated.

The procession started in the Krula shul. A sofer wrote the last words of the Sefer Torah, followed by singing and dancing to our dear deceased friend’s home. They then continued to the shul, where the singing and dancing intensified.

It struck me that my husband usually arrives in the country right before Shabbos. On this particular Friday, however, he took the time to drive me home from a wedding. And so, he merited being part of this extraordinary celebration.

I hope and pray that the dedication of the Sefer Torah will serve as an aliyah for the neshamah of Rav Yecheskel ben Rav Yisrael Shalom. May his family continue to have the means and strength to do kindness and chesed.

And may my husband and I one day be zoche to write a Sefer Torah, and thus contribute to such a holy occasion.

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