So now all I can say is lechi b’shalom v’lechi l’shalom – your beloved partner and my dearly missed Zaide – and please be a melitzas yosher for your whole family that loves and misses you so.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin, Daf Mem Zayin, Amud Alef, concludes that a hesped or eulogy is in honor of the deceased, and not the living, so as such even though I am not worthy of being maspid you, I will say something nevertheless.
You are the only Bubby I ever knew. Abba’s mother passed away when I was very young, so when I think of what a Bubby should be I can only imagine you. You have always been a beacon to the whole family, and especially me, and have always served as a shining example of gemilas chasadim, Torah and a true love for Israel and the Jewish people. It was yours and Zaide’s vision that guided a generation and I was always so proud to be your grandson.
Together with Zaide, you built a newspaper that had more affect on American and world Jewry than even you could have imagined and, while the newspaper carried and continues to carry so many in our family, to me it was always you who carried the newspaper and not vice-versa. I’m not only referring to the fact that I cannot think of an instance in my adult life where I saw you anywhere outside your home without a Jewish Press under your arm, but also to the fact that you were the living spirit behind the scenes.
Unlike the political correctness sweeping the world today, you were never afraid to take a stance. Your voice was there when the silence was deafening and your support was firm when others wavered. You never folded in the face of tyranny or values so foreign to our heritage as you proudly fought even for those who would not reciprocate in kind.
As the Gemara in Masechtes Sanhedrin, Daf Kuf Yud Alef, Amud Alef, says “Chaval al d’avdin v’lo mishtachin – loosely translated, “It is a great loss when those who are irreplaceable depart …” – yes, you are irreplaceable.
I can still remember when you came to Israel for my bar mitzvah. Although the trip was hard on you, you came nonetheless. I never forgot that. Nor can I forget how when I lived at 30 Amherst I would come to see you and Zaide almost every Friday night. More than the wonderful carrot soup you always made, I remember how you always insisted on serving it yourself. Like Avraham with the angels you, too, insisted on caring for the guests yourself. You saw it as an opportunity to do chesed and wanted to serve as an example to us all – something you did oh so well.
Who can forget how much you loved to hear Zaide tell his wonderful stories. It gave you life and showed your inner love for our Torah and holy way of life. So great was your love of Torah that you even composed a song I still sing to my kids on occasion – “On a little mount called Sinai 3000 years ago – G-d gave us his commandments so right from wrong we’d know.” I wish I could sing it for you now.
I’ll conclude with a thought brought down in the sefer Ololot Efraim. In os taf kuf lamed bais, the mechaber likens the death of a tzaddik to a king who had to fight a war against a neighboring city and right before the battle he took his mightiest warrior and sent him home. The remaining soldiers feared the worst until a wise man explained to them that the king’s intention in removing the warrior from battle was for their benefit. Knowing the great warrior was at their side would make the remaining soldiers lazy and could cost the whole battle. Not having anyone to rely on other than themselves, however, would force the remaining soldiers to extract the most from themselves and allow them to win a decisive victory.
You, too, Bubby were our protector allowing us to be lazy. After all, with such a tzadeikes around, we could take it easy. Now that Hashem has taken you from us, it behooves us all to double, triple and even quadruple our efforts bein adam la’Makom andbein adam l’chaveiro.
I ask mechilah for not being closer and for barely seeing you these last couple of years. Living in Israel made it hard to stay in touch and even on my occasional business trips I rarely set aside the time to come by. I always said to myself I would come by next time. I am so sorry.