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True Story: Paying Debts After Death

By Baruch Gordon
10/19/2010, 12:00 AM

In the winter of 1995, Gittel Sarah Deutsch, of blessed memory, passed away. She was known in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood for dedicating her life to acts of charity and loving kindness. Her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Deutsch, who died young leaving his wife with ten children.

Despite the tragic loss, Gittel Sarah remained strong. She continued her daily routine of providing food and clothing to the needy and entertaining Jewish guests who were on the path of returning to religious observance.

She dressed in the finest clothes, while maintaining a strict, modest appearance. She always celebrated the Shabbat and Jewish holidays with great joy. An aura of spiritual courage permeated her home.

She married off her ten children to the finest Rabbinic families.

Gittel Sarah's granddaughter Yochi Goldman from Beitar had a special relationship with her, and felt great sorrow at her passing. One night, after the conclusion of the Simchat Torah holiday in 2005, Yochi had a dream.

Yochi saw herself walking in the Mea Shearim market, near the home of her late grandmother. Suddenly, she saw her grandmother walking towards her wearing her majestic, holiday clothes and jewelry and looking especially happy. Yochi knew in her dream that her grandmother was deceased and, puzzled, she asked, "Grandma, what's going on? How can it be that I am meeting you in the market?"

"I am in the World To Come, and I have a good place there, and all is well," the grandmother answered with a face radiating light. "But there is one thing that is causing me great discomfort and I am begging you to help me in this matter," she said.

Yochi wondered to herself how she could possibly help her grandmother who was already deceased and had a good place in the World to Come.

Gittel Sarah continued: "About a year before I passed away, I did renovations in my home in honor of the approaching holiday. There is an outstanding debt of 875 shekels from the work which I owe to Moshe the Painter. If you are in a position to pay my debt, then marvelous. If not, please contact one of my boys – Amram or Mattitiyahu and ask them to immediately remit funds to Moshe the Painter."

Yochi walked in her dream with her grandmother to the Yeshuot Yaakov Synagogue in the middle of the market. Gittel Sarah entered the synagogue, and Yochi awoke.

Within a few moments, Yochi came to her senses and realized it was already morning. She remembered the dream in detail and felt she had to act with urgency on behalf of her grandmother. She called her parents, who lived in Jerusalem, and described the dream in great detail to her father and mother - Gittel Sarah's daughter. Yochi's parents grew anxioius, but were at a loss of what to think or do.

Yochi suggested that they all initiate a conference call to Moshe the Painter to see what he says.

Yochi's mother remembered well the renovation that her mother did and placed a call to the known Mea Shearim painter. He answered immediately.

Gittel's family asked Moshe the Painter if any debt remained from the work. "Well let's see," he said, flipping through his small notebook. "Gittel Sarah owes me… uh…here it is - 875 shekels."

Once their emotions subsided, the family members decided that Yochi's mother would go over to Moshe the Painter's house and clear the debt. But Yochi still knew no rest. She sensed that her grandmother was hovering above her and urging her, "Go already. Go already." Yochi called her mother several times to ask her to do this chore immediately.

A short while later, Yochi's mother called her from the home of Moshe the Painter as she paid the debt, and heard Moshe saying, "That's it. The debt is erased. No need to worry anymore."

At that moment, Yochi felt great relief. She pondered upon how the living can still help the deceased and, more importantly, how meticulous one must be in his dealings with other people.

This story appeared in the Aug. 26. 2010 edition of Besheva Newspaper, Arutz Sheva's hardcopy weekly, Hebrew magazine. Before translating to English and posting here, I called Yochi Goldman in Beitar to verify the details. Baruch Gordon