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4/04/2011 No Further Proof Necessary: A tribute to Sara Relke Wolosow o.b.m.


No Further Proof Necessary: A tribute to Sara Relke Wolosow o.b.m.

The Talmud Yerushalmi in Tractate Peah 3a states that Rabbi Zeirah was orphaned at a young age. He was pained by the fact that he had no father or mother whom he could honor so he could merit Gan Eden.

After Rabbi Zeirah learned and heard the extent of one’s obligation in honoring their parents from Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Yishmael, he said: “Thank G-d I did not have a father or mother, I could never have properly honored them as the Torah expects!”

For those of us whose parents have passed on, we sometimes wonder whether we gave them the full honor and love they deserved, during their lifetime.

I would like to try and honor my mother and father by sharing some of their life experiences and my feelings towards them.

I pray to Hashem that He will guide me and put the right thoughts in my mind to properly express and do justice to their righteous life and holy memory. I will continue to love and respect them forever.

The young boy, born in Russia, was orphaned from both of his parents at a very young age. He was taken in by his grandparents, who barely could manage themselves.

They sent the boy to the underground Lubavitch Yeshivah in which he excelled in his studies under the most trying of circumstances.

His unyielding devotion and love for Torah, Mitzvahs, and Hashem was acquired in the back sections of synagogues and other hideouts.

For you see, the government did not allow for Jewish education for Jewish children. Some synagogues would risk their safety and secretly allow the children and teachers to study there.

They would stay until the government would somehow find out about the “counterrevolutionary” activities and the children would flee to a new location in the next town, and so it went on and on.

Under the tutelage of some of the finest Mashpiim and Chasidim, the boy blossomed into a sensitive, caring, and G-d-fearing young man. (Mashpiim are unique individuals who serve as spiritual guides, to help shape and perfect the character and behaviors of their students. By being positive role models, the Mashpiim help their students in their pursuit of spiritual wholesomeness.)

The boy spent all of his youth in danger, first as a student and then as a teacher, involved in the holy work of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe to sustain and to perpetuate Yidishkeit in those dark days of the former Soviet Union.

The girl, born is a small town in the Ukraine, named Karlevitz, was the luckier one of the two, for she had her parents until the age of sixteen.

The boy was my father, Reb Nochum ben Tzvi Hirsch, and the girl was my mother, Sara Relke bas Reb Schneur Zalmen Menachem Mendel.

They met and got married in 1941, shortly before the siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade. They set up their home in a small village near Leningrad, Russia. (By today’s standards their wedding amenities could not even match up to an ordinary Kiddush in Shul, but that is a story for another time.)

My mother would relate the horror they experienced from the constant bombardment by the Germans and the daily fear they had to endure. Hunger was rampant and people were dying in the streets by the dozens.

In addition to the impossible difficulties all citizens experienced, my parents, because they were Jewish, and observant at that, they were treated even worse then everyone else.

In addition, the fact my father was avoiding joining the army made him a draft dodger. His troubles were magnified because he had a beard so he could easily be identified as a religious Jew.

In this environment my father and mother began their life-long journey together.

The newlyweds were facing an uphill struggle for survival, without money, jobs, or parents. Yet, against all odds and against a regime that discriminated and hounded them they managed to survive.

Their love of HaShem, His Torah, and mitzvahs, as infused by the teaching and fervor of Chasidus, warmed their minds and hearts and sustained them to overcome all odds and obstacles.

How else can you explain, today, only some 70 years after their marriage, these two individuals have merited having one hundred and fifty of their offspring, bli ayin horah, dedicate their lives to help others! They are all over the world teaching, inspiring, and preparing the world for the coming of Moshiach! Link for family tree.

Now compare their accomplishments and what they left behind to what, L’havdil, Stalin and his henchmen YMS and the gulags have left behind! Zero!

All philosophical discourse cannot change the facts. There is no need for rational explanations. When you live a life of Torah and Chasidus you will prevail. It works!

You may not understand how a piece of metal (plane) flies in the air. You may even have all kinds of rational and logical reasons that it is impossible for metal to fly. Yet you cannot challenge the fact that you have seen it fly—you know it works!

The 12 months of mourning for my late mother, Sara Relke bas Schneur Zalmen Menachem Mendel, concluded last week. Being that this is a leap year, the mourning period ended but the Yahrtzeit will be observed on the 22nd day of Nissan, the last day of Pesach.

Although my father passed away eight years ago, when my mother passed away last year it felt like my father was passing away all over again. My mother’s life being intertwined with his and their shared experiences and all the anecdotes of their trials and tribulation kept my father’s presence in our minds constantly. With the passing of my mother a whole era has gone with her.

The non-stop stream of people who came during the Shiva observance to be Menachem Avel was an unbelievable testimony to the respect the entire community had for her and our family.

I never felt so honored and so special! So many friends and acquaintances from over a decade stopped by; it touched my heart in a way it has never been touched before. I want to thank all those who called, emailed, and visited and let them know how much it meant to me.

During the last years of my mother’s life she lived in a small, sparse apartment. As we were saying our final goodbye to the place, a thought came to mind that as small as the apartment was, there was always room for our families. Sometimes as many as ten of us could stay over! We would roll out thin mattresses and old blankets to occupy every inch of floor space including the kitchen floor.

Another thought came to mind: some of her prized possessions had no takers—old furniture, dishes, clothing, etc. It reminded me once again to put things into perspective, that at the end of the day we do not take any of these material things with us.

The things that matter and those we take along are the good deeds we do, the positive difference we make in other people’s lives, the Torah we study and the Mitzvahs we do.

When my mother once came to one of our programs in Sharon, I overheard her saying to someone, “Listen, we do not live forever. We need to prepare ourselves and acquire as many good deeds as possible.” She lived by what she spoke, never missing a davening, Tehillim of the day, plus all the children’s Kapitlach, etc.

She never wanted to go to the hospital or to a nursing home and despite all the challenges she got her wish. This was only possible due to the exceptional devotion and dedication of my sister Tzippy and her family, and my brother Mendel and his family, who took such unbelievable care of her.

Of special note and recognition is my brother Mendel’s dedication and support to our mother in her last years. In my mind, he has treated and taken care of my mother, of course relative to today’s standards, as the Tanoim treated their parents; he went way beyond what others do for their mothers.

As we were cleaning up her apartment, each one of the children chose the things that were important to them. Being one who loves electronic gadgets, I took the electronic album that the children bought for her, which contained family pictures for her to enjoy.

So now in my bedroom the album plays. It is a constant reminder of a giant of a person and so many fond memories of good and fun times and of the Sayate Deshmaya, and that no matter what the circumstances, never to despair, never to give up, but try and do what is right in HaShem’s eyes and in the end he will come through and you will prevail.

On the last day of her life she lit the Yom Tov candles and heard Kiddush for the final time and in her sleep returned her soul to her maker on the last day of Pesach 5770.

One more thing before I go: I had a made a bl”n commitment to try and study all the six sedorim of the Mishneh during the first year after her passing. I have so far only succeeded in finishing Seder Moed. Each chapter of the entire seder Moed begins with the words: ”The mishnayos is learned liluy nishmas Sara Relke bas Reb Schneur Zalmen Menachem Mendel.” Would you be so kind and follow the links and study one chapter or even one mishne in the memory of a righteous women, Sara Relke bas Schneur Zalmen Menachem Mendel. Mishnayos Seder Moed

They Nishmasa Tzrurah Betzror Hachayim