Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Memories of a Gadol

A friend of mine, Esti C. emailed this to me in response to this post about Rav Scheinberg zt"l. 

I felt a personal connection to HaRav Scheinberg because he lived in the same building as my great-grandfather, HaRav Zeidel Epstein, the mashgiach of Torah Ohr (Rav Scheinberg's yeshiva), whom I visited very often (almost daily) during our year in seminary. 
My Israeli cousin lived in the same building too and took care of my great-grandfather, as well as doing some things for Rav Scheinberg as well. He felt completely at home there. He would just knock and walk in. He took me there many times too.
Though, I never had the experience of cleaning his desk while he sat there ... I know what you must have been feeling. It's an incredible feeling. Scary, all at once.

I felt that many times, as I sat with my great-grandfather, who was not the way he used to be, having just been in a coma. I would sit and hold his hand and stroke it. Then, I would think about all his talmidim and all the things he accomplished in his life; the brachos he gave, the mussar he gave. And I would think - who am I to be touching a person of such stature? How can I just sit here and act as if he is a "regular" person. So I would just sit and watch him in awe, as he slept, his face so peaceful.

Many days, I davened mincha in his kitchen, or on the marpeset (porch) in the back of his apartment. I honestly remember feeling kedusha there, more than in my own room in the dorm.

And, on those days when he was awake and aware and could talk, he would say one thing to me - nem (take) - he was worried about me. While he was the fragile one, he was only concerned that I should have something to eat. He would motion for me to go the makolet at the corner to buy something for myself to eat and put it on his bill. In the beginning, I didn't understand what he wanted me to do, as he couldn't speak in full sentences. But the assistant that stayed with him explained to me. Sometimes I pretended that I had something to eat because I felt bad buying this on his cheshbon, but he knew when it wasn't true :)  He could see right through it.

Many times, I asked him for brachos. Though he could only speak few words, he did give me a bracha for a shidduch, and other things too. At the end of the year, I specifically asked him that I should be zocheh to come back to visit him with my husband iyH. To the astonishment of the assistant, he actually put his hands on my head and gave me a bracha. However, as I am the oldest in my family and had until that point been the only one in my family (from my siblings) to ever see my great-grandfather in person, I asked him for a bracha that my siblings should be zocheh to come visit him as well. Yet, to this, he did not respond. It was very strange. It was almost as if he didn't hear that I had asked anything. The assistant tried too. But, my great-grandfather just motioned that he was getting tired and wanted to rest.

Then - I went back to America at the end of the year and bH got married during that first winter. The following summer, my husband and I went to EY and were indeed zocheh to visit my great-grandfather, just as he had promised. We stayed for ten days. 3 weeks after we left back to America, my great-grandfather was niftar. The reaction of my great-grandfather regarding my siblings visiting him had not been just a coincidence. He knew they were not going to come during his lifetime. I cried and cried and cried. But I thanked Hashem from the depths of my heart that I had had the opportunity to become close to my great-grandfather, even if it had not been in the prime of his life, when he had been a vibrant powerhouse of torah and yiras shamayim.

May our deepest wish come true for us to be zocheh to see the geula sheleima b'karov!!

1 comment:

You made it to the end of this post! What do you think about it?