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For many people, one of the most difficult blessings to say with the proper kavana – sincerity -
is the one uttered upon hearing of a person’s passing – Baruch Dayan HaEmet – Blessed is the True Judge. We mouth the words but our hearts rebel against their meaning because, as humans, our understanding of life is limited to our perceptions. When young people die leaving unfinished business, our instinctive reaction is – how can this be right – how can this be fair?
When an alte bubbah in her 90′s is niftar, those who loved her are grieved but can readily accept Hashem’s judgment; however, when a young husband and father on a mission to save lost Jewish souls is brutally cut down in his prime – for many that is a judgment that is nearly impossible to understand. Toronto’s Jewish community suffered a double blow in that it lost two of its native sons in the same week. These two young men were so exceptional, so different yet extraordinary in what they did with their lives, that their loss is painfully difficult to fathom.
Jacky Rosen, 43, and Chezi (Scott) Goldberg, 42, were born and raised in Toronto. Both were murdered within the same week and buried two days apart in Israel. Jacky was killed by his own diseased, warped body; Chezi – by a Muslim terrorist with a diseased, warped soul. Both Jacky and Chezi were what I call “rodfei chaim” – they valued life with every ounce of
their beings - yet their lives ended horribly prematurely and their loss is bitterly mourned by
those whose life-paths intersected with theirs. In their own unique way, these two extraordinary souls, one housed in a corrupt body, the other, healthy and with high energy - transformed the lives of thousands for the better.
Because Chezi and his incredible achievements have been memorialized on these pages, I will focus on Jacky and his unique journey in life in this article.
I have no doubts that Jacky and Chezi had once known each other. They attended the same Hebrew day school and even though they were one or two grades apart, everyone became a familiar face at lunchtime or during recess. Jacky tended to stand out in a crowd since there weren’t too many pre-teens at school walking around with a limp that seemed to worsen with each passing month. Jacky eventually ended up in a wheelchair, but for a while was able to
wean himself out of it through strenuous and cutting-edge physiotherapy which he sought locally and in Europe.
Sadly, Jacky increasingly lost all his motor functions and, during the last years of his life, he was totally paralyzed and in and out of hospitals. However, a deteriorating body did not stop Jacky from attaining two Masters degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Economics. Jacky even became a teaching assistant, helping his professor grade papers even though holding a pencil became a formidable challenge.
Jacky, whose love for Israel and the Jewish people was as boundless as his spirit, was able,
despite being severely handicapped, to visit Israel at least 25 times.
Jacky was trapped in a useless body. He could never marry and have a family, could not put Tefillin on alone or even scratch an itch. Nevertheless, Jacky rarely complained of his bitter lot in life. It was only towards the end that he asked his rabbi why he – a regular guy – not made up of the stuff a tzaddik is made up of - was given such a nisayon, a test. He seemed more curious than angry. Had he won a $100 million lottery, he would have asked the same
In truth, Jacky had no concept of how special he really was, no idea what a hero and role model he was to all who met him, for he was a non-stop living lesson in hakarat hatov (appreciation). Those visiting him would walk away in awe at his joy of being alive, and
ashamed for feeling sorry for themselves over matters that in comparison were so petty and minor. How can you complain that business is bad when at least you can get out of bed and go to work? How can you feel upset that you need root canal when you can feed yourself? So many people had a deeper appreciation of their lives because of Jacky – so many people became more considerate and tolerant and joyful because of him. So many learned to try harder to get what they wanted – as he fought from hour to hour, from day to day, from year to year to stay alive. How Torahdik was this man with so much pain and disability who
cherished life so much, while thousands of miles away, an entire Palestinian generation is being raised to view life as something to be discarded, as having no value.
Chezi, as the readers of this paper know (he was a weekly columnist), also left those who crossed his path with a better appreciation and understanding of what life is all about, and with the undisputable knowledge that each and every life is valuable and priceless and worth fighting for. Chezi, who gave up a comfortable, safe North American lifestyle to take on
the challenges of living in Israel and helping those who were struggling to successfully adjust and adapt to the land he loved so fiercely – was a role model of genuine ahavat Yisrael, love of the country and the people. And he paid for this devotion and convictions with his life.
And as these two tzaddikim sit at Hashem’s table, their love of life and the Jewish people will
continue to make a difference.
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Yet all are part of one neshamah, planted in rich, verdant soil, determined to grow. May our garden continue to produce a glorious assortment of flowers and trees, each attached firmly to its roots. Our diverse southern vegetation flourishes and grows into different trees, flowers, and fruits, and a rainbow of glorious shades and hues appears. Yet each shoot is rooted in the same soil, stretching its branches and blossoms heavenward in an endless pursuit of growth and connection to the One above.
This past Lag B’Omer, we were blessed to make our first upsherin, where we celebrate our son’s first hair cut. It’s a wonderful milestone that mimics the three years that we refrain from plucking a tree’s first fruits and symbolizes the entry of the child into the world of Torah learning. It’s a clear sign to everyone; this boy is no longer a baby.
Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
I would have to say that one of the most annoying things about having a newspaper advice column, aside from all these people writing to me and asking for advice, is that they frequently don’t tell me WHY they’re asking.
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, who passed away on 28 Tammuz, (July18) this year at age 102, spent all of his days and most of his nights learning Torah. He was the paramount leader of our generation, and inspired tremendous awe and reverence in everyone who knew him. Now, every woman has the stunning opportunity to do something in his memory. A Sefer Torah is being written in his memory and women around the world have the chance to dedicate a letter.
Due to her family situation, it is understandable that she will have more responsibilities than other girls her age, but she would benefit from having some free time and receiving more appreciation for her hard work.
For children, summer means outdoor sports, picnics, and of course, no school! Teachers and students work hard all year long – and everyone deserves a break from education over the summer. However, this two-month break can often have some pretty devastating consequences.
It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.
Rabbi Pinchas Gruman is the new rav of the Minyan at Aish Tamid.
One of the most respected Torah figures in Los Angeles, Rabbi Gruman has been described as “The Los Angeles link in the mesorah of the yeshiva world” by Rabbi Nachum Sauer. As a talmid in Lakewood in the 1950s, Rabbi Gruman received semicha from Rav Aaron Kotler, zt”l, and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles.
A popular topic of discussion in newspapers, magazines and talk shows revolves around the management of personal finances – or rather the lack of them. In most cases, dealing with overwhelming debt is the topic de jour. Seems many people are drowning in it. Spending more than they have has mired countless consumers into a financial quicksand with maxed out credit cards and collection agencies knocking on the door. Speaking of doors, many face eviction and the loss of their home.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/toronto-mourns-loss-of-twin-towers/2004/03/10/
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