'Wisdom and sensitivity that are irreplaceable'

Rabbi Yoni Rosensweig shares a personal story from his Rabbi who passed away last week - Rabbi Nachum Eliezer Rabinovitch.

Rabbi Yoni Rosensweig ,

Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch
Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch
Ehud Dahan

This past week, my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Nachum Eliezer Rabinovitch, passed away. I have been writing a daily post in his memory on (Facebook), and will continue doing so until Shavuot (when the Shloshim end). I have been writing in Hebrew, both because I know how much he cherished the language, and also because his public activity for the past (almost) 40 years has been primarily in Hebrew.

Nevertheless, I have written a eulogy in English which I hope to publish soon, but until then, for my English-speaking readers, I wanted to say one short thing. I cannot fully put into words what my connection with my Rebbe meant to me. It is a loss that is beyond words. He had both a wisdom and sensitivity that are irreplaceable. I hope the following story (I changed some of the details to conserve privacy) shows something of that.

It was a Friday morning several years back. I had just finished davening, and my phone rang. On the other end was a fellow I knew from Australia, who was in Israel with some girls and boys from there, on a year's program in Israel. Unfortunately, one of the girls was told that her mother - who was suffering from an incurable disease - had taken a sudden and steep turn for the worse, and that if she didn't fly back immediately, she might not get to see her mother alive.

Obviously, flying back would mean flying on Shabbat, and the fellow was asking me - on behalf of the girl - if she could book a ticket and start flying back. I responded that such a question was "above my pay grade", and that I couldn't possibly make such a decision without consultation. I called my Rosh Yeshiva, and told him the story.

"Is the mother still conscious?", he asked. "Yes", I answered. "In that case, she can fly", he responded. "Why?", I asked, trying to understand the connection between his question and his conclusion.

"If the mother is conscious, and they tell her the daughter is flying in, the mother will do her utmost to find the strength to stay alive. This is well-known, and well-documented, that when given a reason to live, even people in dire situations outlive the darkest predictions of doctors. If we have the ability to lengthen her life by even another minute, we must do so. Tell her she can fly, and good health to her and her family".

May his memory be a blessing to all of us.

Rabbi Yoni Rosensweig is the Rabbi of the Netzach Menashe community in Beit Shemesh, and teacher at Midreshet Lindenbaum.