Remembering My Beloved Father A’H – By: Riki

Throughout the year we heard so many amazing things that Aba accomplished during his short time on this earth. Some things we knew about, others we only learned now. I could sit here for hours and try to enumerate all of Aba’s outstanding qualities and recount all his selfless acts of chesed, but I would like to share with you what he meant to me as a father.

I was very fortunate to have a close bond with Aba. As his oldest “son,” I was obligated he help him build the sukkah, listen to his Divrei Torah at the Shabbos table and stay up late on Leil Haseder singing, while everyone else fell asleep and Mommy was cleaning. Thankfully they didn’t let girls into Satmar or I would have had to come along with him to the Rebbes tish (although he did take us once when the Skver Rebbe came to Flatbush for shabbos). Aba was the kind of father who was involved in all aspects of my life. He always knew who my friends were, and what was going on at school. When I went to seminary he would call me all the time, usually to make sure I was taking advantage of my time in Eretz Yisroel, but also just to talk and catch up. In recent years he would constantly Facetime with me and the kids. So much so, that he even named himself “Facetime Zaidy,” because he always wanted me to bring the kids over instead of just talking to them over the phone. He always wanted to be part of my life. Nothing in was too small to share with him. Even the little things, like seeing pictures of my Shabbos table, were so special to him.

To Aba the status quo was never enough, everything had to be taken to the next level. Whether it was a project for school, our Purim mishloach manos, my bas mitzvah or garnishing the food for Yom Tov, Aba always made everything special. His Pesach seder was probably the highlight of my year (I even mentioned it to my husband, Shimshon on one of our dates). He would prepare for it weeks in advance. It was so interactive and exciting and not only because he gave out awesome prizes. I have so many great memories of the amazing trips to Florida, our trip to Eretz Yisrael when I was in seminary, and chol hamoed trips to Niagra and Washington. Aba planned every detail of those trips with a full itinerary (which he printed). He was very hands-on; he wouldn’t just sit on the bench and watch us do our thing. He was always right there with us. He knew how to make everything exciting.

At the levaya my brother-in-law Yaakov said, “Everything Aba was in to, the whole family was in to.” I think it was because Aba really believed in what he was doing. Aba loved Yidishkeit and had a close connection with Hashem. That’s why his siddur looked the way it did. He never asked us “did you daven today?” instead he would ask “did you talk to Hashem today?” I once overheard him telling someone that If people really understood the opportunity they had when they davened, they would never talk in shul. He wasn’t just saying that, he really believed it. To Aba Judaism wasn’t a strict rule book with a dry routine. Rather it was full of beauty and meaning. It was a reason to dance Friday night when he sang zemiros in his tish bekesha or to get excited over a great dvar torah. It was why he was attracted to chassidus, Rav Elazer, and Rav Pinchus. It was why he loved when Tzviki played the guitar at Havdalah.  To him yiddishkeit was alive, mitzvos were exciting. And that’s why we were into everything he was in to, because we knew that he was the real deal.

In the days and weeks after my father was niftar, I had this obsession with finding some kind of message from him. I was constantly on the lookout for where that message would come from until one day, I remembered that he wrote me a letter to read on the plane on my way to seminary. That was it, I found my message. The most precious thing my Aba could have left me. How many people could say that they have a two paged single space letter from their father? Well, I do. On the first page he expressed how much he loved me and how proud he was of me. But then on the second page he said he wanted to leave me with a message that at the time I didn’t really understand. The letter read, “I beg you to keep one thing in mind. The true meaning of life is not for yourself. There are many people who choose to live their lives for themselves. It’s all about their wants and needs. You see it all the time…If you are to have one goal on your journey…may it be to look deep into yourself and find something that motivates you to help others. I can’t begin to tell you how many times the Ohr Hachayim Hakodesh talks about this…but in this week’s Parsha alone (you knew I had to get a vort into this somehow) the O’H says atem netzavim…that we are all in this together…we are responsible for one another…Find a project…don’t just start it…but make it your life mission…find your calling…see what suits you…and run with it….in spite of what people will tell you…”it will never happen,” “it’s too difficult”…don’t listen…do it…DONT LOOK TO SAVE THE WORLD…LOOK TO SAVE ONE SMALL PART OF IT…you have to find the things that will help others…make small differences in OTHER’s lives…and you will see that eventually you changed a world.”

I remember being very confused by his message. What was he talking about? I was going to seminary-to grow, daven at the Kosel and eat lots of delicious falafel. But now, after his petira, it all makes perfect sense. Aba was telling me what his essence was, what made him tick. Now I understand why we heard so many stories from people during shiva and throughout this year that were completely new to us. It was because he had a mission in his life. He wasn’t a big Rebbe or Rosh yeshiva. He didn’t start any famous chesed organizations. He was just a simple Jew, an average Joe, trying to save a small part of the world by quietly making a difference in the lives of many individuals.

Although Aba was out saving the world, he never put us second. He picked up every phone call or at least texted that he would call me back soon. When I needed his undivided attention, I got it. We all know that no one loved his family more than Aba. I know it not only because he told us all the time, but also because his actions told us. No matter what, Aba always put us first. We knew he would walk to the end of the earth and back just for us. And he never asked for anything in return. All he ever wanted were hugs and kisses.  We were lucky to have such an amazing father. Even more so, we were lucky that we didn’t have to wait for him to pass for us to realize how special he was- we always knew it. We were always so proud that our Aba held up the world. He was full of life and his life was full. We miss you Aba. May we see you soon with the coming of Mashiach bmeheira byamenu amen.

Riki

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