As I sit here and write about Rebbi so many thoughts, mem- ories, feelings and emotions run through me. I still can’t be- lieve he is not with us, not because I’m in denial it’s just that he was so ALIVE, so vibrant, so happy, so full of energy, purpose, direction, and action I only now can understand when it says that “a tzadik is alive even after he passes”.
My real relationship started with Rebbi about 4 years ago when he came back to Queens. I always felt I missed out on all the years he was in our community before, so this time I did not want to miss out.
What finally pulled me in were my friends, Moshe Sadayeb, my brother in law Yehuda Nisanov, and Yehuda Mishpatov. They were all glowing and they were all different. I wanted what they had, so I came. The moment I sat down in his shiur the Gemara came to life. He knew how to make it so sweet, and make you feel so special and appreciate the greatness of limud haTorah.
Rebbi would drive in from Lakewood to Queens throughout the week and just knowing how long and tiring this drive can be, I couldn’t imagine how much longer he could con- tinue commuting like this. And then BH Rebbi made arrangements to stay in Queens throughout the week which showed us how serious and how important this mission of his was. “We need to bring Torah to Queens” he would al- ways tell us, and he was doing it.
One day he came over to me and asked me if I was interest- ed in taking something on. I told him I would think about it. Two days later he came to me and said, “Tzvi you can think about it as long as you want but time is short in this world for too much thinking. Now you will start and leave the thinking for later.” It was a crystallizing moment for me. He taught me how to grab onto opportunities in life and not miss them because of overthinking. Doing it was one of the best decisions in my life.
When we would have our learning in the morning almost everyday Rebbi would see who is missing and ask where is so and so. Is he feeling ok? Is he alright? He would ask me to stop everything and call them on the spot. “But Rebbi, we are in the middle of a sugya right now can I call in a few minutes. And then he would persist, “please call him now, see if he’s ok, tell him we miss him here and that it’s not the same without him”. He wasn’t just our Rebbi, he cared for us so much, he was our father.
In terms of Torah, he taught us that learning was not a sub- ject that you “learn”. It is life itself. I still remember how he would go from making us all smile and laugh, and in the same shiur would cry the most heartfelt tears telling us how much he loved each one of us.
One of the most amazing things that he accomplished was to show regular
working guys it
was possible to
start your day with hours of learning and still be able to have plenty of time to make a parnasa.
How he would go from one shiur
to the next with almost no breaks was something I never saw. From the Baal Habatim to the bochrim to the Kollel Avrechim. He would give each one exactly what they need- ed. Where did he get the strength for all of this I used to ask myself.
When a person lives with his own problems and is dealing with his own situations then his energy level has a limit they are finite and there is only so much you can do. But when you are living caring for another, and thinking about how to help someone other than yourself that’s when you tap into that tzelem Elokim and can have strength and en- ergy that you would never imagine you had. That’s who our Rebbi was. He was a gadol. When it came to himself, a chair to sleep in, the powdered coffee we all remember, the juice one of the guys would bring him made his day, he wouldn’t need anything else. But when it came to us, nothing less than the best would ever suffice.
He lived, and breathed every breath for his family, his Talmidim and for all of klal Yisroel, caring for us and con- necting us all to the Torah Hakedosha.
Rebbi I will miss you so much.