“Wait,” I said, as a thought struck me. “You mean the father, Rabbi Aharon… or the son…?”
“Yeah, the father,” came the response.
“Ok, just checking…” I paused.
“He’s dead now,” he commented affably. “His son’s dead, too.”
The calm tone of the words seemed to add, “He’s dead and gone. Yessiree, you folks can say all you want, but once a man is dead, he’s dead, and that’s all there is to it, and I for one would rather be a taxi driver who’s alive right now then one of your rabbis who’s dead.”
I mentally shook my head with a smile. A goyishe kup. It was almost laughable. Reb Aharon, dead?
We pushed down Forest Avenue. On all sides, cars pressed in, cars of yeshiva men and ba’alei batim, cars of yeshiva wives and bnos yisroel, all whizzing to their destinations, to learn, to do ma’asim tovim, with their yiddishe families and with others.
Why, I thought, there isn’t a child in this town who does not know the name of Reb Aharon.
Not a man, not a woman, not a child. Why, this whole town is Reb Aharon, a living, breathing, pulsing testament to his vision and his iron will. No, not just a testament. An outgrowth itself, a beautiful child, grown up, sturdy, and hardworking towards significant accomplishments. A child with flaws, surely, but beautiful nonetheless.
A child whose face carries the features of its father.
The hot wind flew in my face as we raced down Forest Avenue. This is my town, my life, my yeshiva, my people, my friends, my family. We are one because we are Jewish, and we share one Father, who gave us all one Torah, and commanded us to learn it. He gave us, too, special fathers and mothers on this earth, rebbaim and morahs and mechanchim and mechanchos and tattys and mommys and roshei yeshiva and rabbanim… who meld this Torah into our person, and pour it into our blood.
Yes, we Yidden here share more than just physical proximity to each other.
The trees lining the sides of the street towered above, shading gentle greenness over our car as we swept by. This is an old street, one of my favorites. It doesn’t change… that much. Those trees are just as magnificent as ever, calming in their ancient strength and glory.
The life of their pale green spring leaves danced in the air, a fast moving canopy under which we peacefully sailed.
Reb Aharon, I thought, was never more alive than he is today.
Then we roared left onto Fourteenth Street, and headed off into the setting sun.