My Dear Father
You haven't been here for almost 30 days and it hurts so much.
You haven't been here for almost 30 days and I still don't believe it. It feels like just a few hours ago that I visited you with my sweet baby Noam Dov, your last grandchild born in your lifetime. You were so happy to see him. Your face was shining.
You didn't tell me Abba, what was going to happen in the coming hours. You didn't tell me that this is the last kiss that I'm going to give you. We had so many plans, so much to do. I didn't know that these were your last hours with us.
I didn't think that these would be your last words to us. You said "ziskeit" to your grandchild. You told my sister to take care of herself. And you told us to do whatever we can for the Jewish people. You didn't say a word about yourself. You were above worrying about yourself. You only worried about others.
Suddenly you disappeared on me. I didn't have enough time.
There was so much more to say and discuss. I prayed that it should never end. And suddenly you disappeared on me. Suddenly you went away and I'm so lonely and hurt, Abba. I didn't have enough time.
Do you remember when I told you that it was unfair being one of the youngest in the family and how most of my siblings got to spend more years with you? You never allowed us to be jealous of each other, so I hope you forgive me for this one. I'm just really jealous.
When I was born, Abba, you were already the Rosh Yeshiva of Aish HaTorah. You were so busy and you were already so important and famous, but to me you were always my father. The best father in the world! I have no idea how you did it. You were SO BUSY! I remember as a little kid seeing how busy you were. Your trips abroad, your leaving the house to the yeshiva early in the morning and coming back late in the evening.
But I never felt anything missing, just the opposite. I remember the Torah you taught me, the wisdom you imparted to me and of course the love you showered me with. You somehow were always able to remember all the small details -- to call every Friday afternoon while you were overseas to wish me "Good Shabbos," to say a devar Torah, and to remind me that God loves me. And you somehow never forgot to bring back all those things we asked you to buy for us when you went overseas.
I also remember all those times you left in the middle of the night for your fundraising trips. You would always wake us up to say goodbye, to give us a kiss before you left. You have no idea how much strength it gave me, and it still gives me strength. Now as a father myself, I can only stand in awe of your ability to be such a perfect father.
I will not forget when you took me one night a few months before my Bar Mitzvah to the person who makes the tefillin and ordered a pair especially for me. And then a month before my Bar Mitzvah you took me to the Kotel to put them on for the very first time. I can still feel your warm hand putting my tefillin on me. You were so happy.
You were by my side when I needed you and you took a step back when I needed some space.
Throughout my life, through my ups and downs, you were always there for me. You were right by my side when I needed you and you took a step back when I needed some space. You never pressured me, but you always had high goals for me . My successes were also your successes and my happiness made you very happy.
It was amazing to be with you on Shabbos. I can still hear your special voice saying Kiddush and singing the songs that you learned in your father's house. I will miss that very much. I thought that you'd at least rest a little after such a long work week, but you always disappointed me. The Shabbos was too holy for you to sleep through it. You made sure to go to shul early and be one of the first 10 people. And there wasn't a minute on Shabbos that wasn't used by you constructively.
One of the most special moments in my life was in the shul. The kohanim would start their blessing, and you, my great father, the respected Rosh Yeshiva, would simply bend down and place your tallis over the two of us, so that we would receive love together, the blessing of our great Creator, Who loves us so much. You taught me to open my hands and to open my heart to receive the Almighty's blessing and love. Those were the moments that I'll never forget.
Care and Inspiration
I will never forget that day we went to the doctor. He looked at your x-ray and he didn't want to say a word. But you were never afraid of anything and wanted to hear everything. You weren't afraid, Abba. You asked, "My Creator, what am I supposed to do?" What am I supposed to do physically, and even more, what am I supposed to do spiritually? "We are going to do whatever is supposed to be done," you said, despite the fact that the doctors didn't give you a chance. As with everything, you wanted to know the plan, you wanted clarity.
"How can we wake up the Jewish people?" That was your constant focus.
The doctors were in the physical world, and you were focused on the "other" world. You said that when a person is sick, he still has to continue to fight for his people and his Creator. You were so sick, Abba. I begged you to rest, I begged you to relax. But you did the opposite. "Go and get me a meeting with all the great rabbis," you asked me. "I have to speak to them about what we are doing for the Jewish people." You begged them to create a committee to save the Jewish people from imminent danger. It hurt you more that a soldier was being kept in captivity by his enemies. Your own pain was secondary. It hurt you more that our brothers and sisters were being bombed in their houses.
You were willing to accept this disease, but you weren't willing to accept that there was a Jew in the world that didn't know that he had a Father in heaven Who loved him more than anything. "How can we wake up the people and how can we wake up the world?" That was your entire focus until your last day.
Abba, it's been almost 30 days now and it hurts so much!
Abba, rest in peace. You deserve to rest. I promise we will do our utmost to fulfill your vision and we will cling to the Torah you taught us. We love you.