Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.
A time to give birth; and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.
Written by King Solomon, the essence of these verse is timeless; it surpasses time and space. Effectively, King Solomon was the ultimate seeker of the meaning and purpose of life "under the sun." Thus, he will forever guide generation after generation on the futility of life without trust in G-d, despite all earthly hardships and even wickedness.
And while treatises have been written about the wisdom of King Solomon, his words were the first thoughts that sprang to mind, that is, when notified about the tragic passing (Feb. 3, 2022, 2nd of Adar 1, 5782) of a much-loved and cherished family member, Rabbanit (Rebbetzin) Nava Begun, z"l.
The beloved wife of Rav Dov Begun, Founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Jerusalem's Yeshivat Machon Meir; a world renowned national religious center of learning, one of the largest Jewish outreach a/k/a kiruv organizations in Israel), she was truly a woman of valor; an Eishet Chayil.
Considered a Matriarch to countless within Jerusalem (and well beyond), she was as humble as she was wise. This was a woman whose warmth and embrace always extended sincere offers of assistance, if needed, even to those she had just met, as if long-time friends. Indeed, she expected nothing in return. A keen listener, she never judged another's path in life, just because it didn't mesh with hers. She never held herself above others, rather, as equal before G-d's eyes.
Navah would gather around her Sabbath table the paupers and lonely souls of Jerusalem. At her funeral, her children noted that in their youth each of her 12 children was given a special mission: Despite having little money for their own needs, Navah would place money in envelopes and give it to each child. They were then given the address of a family in need, but under strict instructions to not be seen when delivering the money, to protect the recipients' dignity.
Upon reflection, her kindness was always felt when visiting the cozy home she created with her beloved and devoted husband, Rav Dov Begun. Within its sanctified walls, the couple truly practiced what is commonly referred to as "Hakarat HaTov." When stepping over their thresh-hold, one immediately felt relaxed and at home, regardless of how many others filled its rooms. They always made room for more, this writer's immediate family included. Forever grateful.
And while both were considered the "wise elders" of our extended family, it wasn't until this writer made aliyah (in the summer of 2008) that Nava Begun, z"l, really made a profound impact on a highly personal level.
Reeling from a major loss, sitting down with her (whether side-by-side in quietude, or in deep discussion about the meaning of life and other matters), somehow, felt like a heavy burden became noticeably lighter. It was as if her righteous spirit calmed things down at this (emotionally turbulent) end. A few and far between gift.
As a result, when in need of a dose of positivity, a visit with cousin Nava Begun, z"l, fit the bill. Seemingly oozing boundless energy, she was always up for a day trip, a/k/a tiyul. Small in stature, we joked that her knapsack (packed with sweet-smelling homemade treats for our jaunt) was bigger than she was. Simply, she had the unique ability to elicit both calmness and robust laughter.
But the actual journey was not without its challenges, ride-wise. The first time we ventured out together, much to this writer's shock, she put pedal-to-the-medal and it felt like a blast-off had occurred. Hair-raising. Hanging on for dear life (to the short window strap), this oft-referred to back-seat driver couldn't believe her eyes. But with full confidence and control of the car, she zig-zagged out of Jerusalem's notoriously crazy traffic jams, and onto more open back-roads like a race car driver! And off this (unlikely) duo went.
That very first day trip (after this heart stopped pounding), it was gently mentioned that driving with her was a wilder ride than with Frank Kutnicki, z"l - having learned how to (or not to) navigate NYC choke-like traffic jams, while driving a cab to pay for college. But never mind, living to tell these tales is testimony to both of their navigational skill-sets.
Once settled in for our adventure, more often than not, our destination involved exploring the many hills and valleys within Judea and Samaria - with a central focus on Hevron. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the nooks and crannies within the aforementioned heart of biblical and historical Israel. What a "teacher" she was - upon the realization that what I thought I knew didn't even come close to what I had yet to learn.
Not only that, our destination points were often lengthened because so many people knew her and were clearly happy to stop to chat - until I would tap her on the arm and whisper: time to go, bid yalla! If only her patience rubbed off ....
Blessed with many loving children and their offspring, she recounted this and that delicious story about one or the other in her brood. In particular, "her Ateret" was often mentioned. Spunky like her mom, her face glowed when sharing mom-to-mom stories about Ateret's exploits. Her "mini-me."
Most significantly, from this heart to Rav Begun, and to the precious family and legacy they created:
While as close to an angel on this earth, Nava Begun, z"l, is surely one of G-d's chosen angels in heaven.
May you forever rest in peace. Baruch Dayan Ha' Emet, "Blessed is [The] True Judge." May your memory be for a blessing.