Remembering my Shver A’H – By: Shimshon Klein

Besides for the night of his petirah, the last time that I saw Abba was two days earlier at my nephew’s bris. The morning of the bris, Abba was everything that Abba always was, a wide smile, a vort, reveling in the presence of his children, doing anything that he could for a hug or kiss from his grandchildren, and never missing the opportunity to share in someone else’s simcha. On that morning it meant traveling to Passaic on a weekday morning for his machatanim’s grandson’s bris, but that’s who he was. Seeing Abba always gave me a lift and I was as happy to see him then as I always was, not knowing of course that it would be my last opportunity to speak to him face to face.

Later that day we spoke on the phone, talking about his ulcer, the levaya of my rosh yeshiva, and how since we were both in Brooklyn that day we should all go out for lunch. We didn’t. Two days later, I watched in shock as we lowered his body into the ground and pushed shovelfuls of dirt on top. I’ll never forget those 48 hours, they will stay with me for the rest of my life. What will also stay with me though, is the seven years that I was able to spend with Abba and how I got to know and love him as one of the best people that I ever met.

Abba was strong and full of life, everyone who knew him spoke about how when he set his mind to something, nothing stood in his way. He was the ultimate doer and his chesed knew no bounds. He constantly looked to grow in yiddishkeit and he always looked for ways to bring along everyone around him in his quest to gain a closer relationship with Hashem. That was as true for those closest to him as well as to a stranger that he met while on a family trip. He was always ready to share an insight in Teffilah or a story about a tzaddik if he felt it would help others grow. His devotion to chessed was legendary and when it came to helping out a fellow Jew nothing was impossible. Whether it meant getting a mes through customs in time for a kevurah or just giving a hug and a listening ear to a kid who didn’t have anywhere else to turen, there was nothing that Abba wouldn’t do.

I remember one time we drove by a dunkin’ donuts and we noticed a crowd of kids hanging around outside. Abba turned to me and said “when people pass by a crowd like that they try to think up ways about how they can clear them away. What they should be doing is buying a box of doughnuts and a couple of packs of cigarettes giving them out to these kids and asking them how they got there”. I asked Abba if he’d ever done that himself, with a shrug and a look like I’d just asked the stupidest question he said of course he had. He didn’t see things the way other people did. He saw the root of the problem, not the symptom.

This was also true for his approach to tefillah, he never liked when people told others to stop talking in shul, instead he tried to teach them the importance of talking to Hashem and what the words of davening meant. I can’t count the number of times that he would ask me, “do you know what this paragraph means?” “Do you know the significance of this word?” He lived what he preached and he tried to pass on the lessons to those around him and those closest to him.

Nothing was more important to Abba than family, I felt this first hand because he always treated me like a son. Whenever Riki and I came to the house it was like yom tov and Abba and Mommy always made me feel like a prince. When Efraim was born it was as if Abba’s whole world lit up, he jumped into his role of grandfather with the enthusiasm of someone who had been waiting for this his entire life. He would go to any lengths for a chance to spend time with his grandchildren and a hug or a chance to hold any of them was the most precious thing in the world to him.

Abba had tremendous Chashivus for rabbanim and he spent a good portion of his life trying to get close to various Tzadikim. Every time that we came to Mommy and Abba here in brooklyn, we would daven in Rabbi Sherrer’s shul and Abba would wait all the way until the very end for the opportunity to say good shabbos to the rav, it didn’t matter how long it took, he wouldn’t push, he would stand in the back and wait until he was able to get those few precious seconds with Rabbi Sherrer. His reverence for R’ Pinchas and the various Rebbes that he was associated with knew no bounds. Each one of us was dragged to at least one of them at one time or other. Tzviki was dragged to all of them.

He never lost an opportunity to teach us how to live and how to grow. He was a role model and a pillar of strength always available whenever we needed him. He always picked up the phone when I called no matter the meeting or who he was with. When I was stuck he would fix it and when things were tense he knew how to diffuse. He was someone that we could always turn to and even now, a year later I still feel more vulnerable because he’s not here. I miss him every day and I constantly think about him and the void that he left in all of our lives.

I always loved how nervous he would get before meeting any of the boys that Esti and Baili were going out with. Without fail, before every single first date, Abba would call me up frantically, “Shimshon what should I talk to him about”, I never had a good enough answer for him but he was so desperate he never stopped calling.

I always told him you interview dozens of professionals every week. You meet hundreds of people but for some reason this was the one thing that always made him nervous. I always loved that about him. We miss you Abba

May his neshama be a Meilitz Yashar for us and for all of klal yisroel.

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