In all honesty, I am quite jealous of those mothers for whom taking care of the daily household chores flows easily and naturally. For me, as an “out of the box”, creative thinker, these repetitive tasks feel boring and tedious.
Washing the dishes is at the top of my “most hated” list. I wash and dry, day in and day out, but the next day- or maybe even later that same day – I have to do it again! Though intellectually, I know that my efforts really do accomplish something of consequence, I find it exhausting, frustrating and depleting.
My grandfather, a”h, though was the opposite. Sidney Lopchinsky had no dreams of grandeur and impressiveness. His greatest joy was to be a support for his family- his wife, child, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Saba, as we called him, was absolutely, hands down, my favorite guest. He loved to help in any way he could. After every meal, even when he was in his nineties, he would head directly to the sink and not rest until every dish was washed.
He also enjoyed folding the laundry for me. In fact, I used to save what I consider the absolutely worst task ever-pairing the extra single socks- for his visits. He was delighted to have something useful to do and would sit for hours at the table finding matches. I was always so impressed with his incredible diligence and dedication to his family and, despite my personal struggles in these areas, truly aspire to follow in his footsteps.
I therefore felt it was so appropriate the special way that my grandfather’s first yahrzeit was commemorated.
To go back a bit, about ten years ago, my father, Dr. Richard Lopchinsky was asked by his friend, Rabbi Plagman, to learn Gemara together in memory of his mother. Though my father, who we call Abba, had some hesitation at first, he did agree. The two met frequently and worked slowly together through most of Maseches Sotah.
A few years later, when Abba moved to Phoenix, he had not yet completed Sotah. Since the Daf Yomi group “happened” to be learning Sotah at that time, my father decided to join and complete the tractate. Abba enjoyed Daf Yomi, and was especially impressed by the presentation style of Rabbi Tzvi Holland, then the Rosh Kollel of the Phoenix Kollel. He also enjoyed the camaraderie that being part of Daf Yomi gave him as a newcomer. Once that tractate was completed, Abba surprised himself by deciding to keep learning Daf Yomi with his group.
It was not a simple effort. Every single day- week after week, month after month, even year after year- my father trudged along, slowly completing section after sections of Gemara.
The incredible hashgacha only became clear much later. When my grandfather passed away last year, (baruch Hashem at 93 years old!), my father realized that he would be finishing his own personal Daf Yomi cycle, about seven and a half years after he had begun, just at my grandfather’s first yahrzeit!
I was blessed to bring my family to the east coast (from our home in Milwaukee) to celebrate this very special, unique simcha. Abba and his four children and almost all of his grandchildren (except for my daughter studying in seminary in Israel) spent a beautiful Shabbos together at my brother’s home in Teaneck, NJ. The siyum then followed on Sunday at my cousin’s house in Monsey, celebrated with over fifty relatives and friends as an inspiring remembrance of my grandfather’s life.
I thought it was so appropriate that my Saba’s first yahrzeit was commemorated by my father’s constant, dedicated daily efforts culminating in something incredible and beautiful.
I was amazed by this hashgacha and pray it will motivate me to integrate the lessons from my grandfather and my father; to truly appreciate how special the daily efforts that I make are, and how much I am really accomplishing- even when “just” doing the dishes again.