Who was this man that when he was no longer conscious, it was the Daf that played by his bed? Who was this man that just a few months ago, following Maariv the night of Rosh Chodesh Adar, when everyone else turned to go home, he, despite being unable to articulate the words, launched into the tune for mi’shenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha with all his energy, causing people to stop in their tracks, come back and dance with him. Who was this man that despite battling cancer, continued to emphatically proclaim “Baruch Hashem, Hashem is amazing?” (Information based on an article by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue). Who is this man whose mantra was, “Our happiness and our outlook are inextricably linked?” Who was this man who received his medical degree from Yale and cared for his patients like they were his family members? The answer is he was my friend who lived in Florida, taken after 47 years of life, who I knew as a child and looked up to in yeshiva as an adult and someone who had many, many friends, Rabbi Dr. Brian Galbut, Baruch Tzvi Ben Reuven Nosson, z”l.,.
He was buried on Tisha B’Av, and we know the loss of a tzadik is like the burning of the Beit HaMikdash (Rosh Hashana 18b). In a sense we lost a third Beit HaMikdash this Tisha B’Av, but we only need to have Rabbi Akiva’s optimism, which Brian would espouse, that the path is now set for the third Beit HaMikdash to return with the arrival of Mashiach.
We know there exists in every generation — and surely, in our generation — “a person from among the descendants of Judah who is worthy of being the Mashiach of Israel.” (The commentary of Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura on Ruth 1:1). The Chatam Sofer notes from the time of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and onward there’s a worthy person in every generation to be Mashiach, but our actions impede it from coming.
This Shabbos we are reading Parshat Eikev, a direct hint to ikvesa deMeshicha and Brian’s name, Baruch Zvi, also hints to Mashiach.
Brian, Baruch Tzvi, z”l, has his second name, Tzvi, referenced in a verse that refers to Mashiach. The Medrash Rabbah, Shir Hashirim (2:22) on the verse, “Domeh dodi l’tzvi” (2:17), says, just like a deer is revealed, and hidden, and again hidden, so it will be with Mashiach. He will come and then be concealed and then reveal himself again, and when concealed we will struggle to believe in him, but ultimately, he will resurface. When Mashiach arrives for the first time, we will apply Brian’s first name, Baruch, by making the blessing on Mashiach, Baruch Attah Hashem Eloheinu Melech HaOlam HaTov V’HaMeiteiv.
So, what must be done now based on Brian’s life example to bring Mashiach immediately?
Sefer Devarim contains tochacha and embodies Moshe’s last message to Bnei Yisroel in the desert. However, Moshe has a strong connection to our specific generation. It’s written (Sanhedrin 38b; Vayikra Rabbah 26:7), as Moshe looked into the Book of Adam, Moshe Rabbeinu was shown the Sages and the leaders of all the generations of the future. When he thus gazed ahead at the generation that would live to witness the footsteps of Mashiach, he saw that they would have but a modest conception of Divinity, and in serving God with their minds and their hearts they would not attain the loftiest peaks of avodah. Rather, they would actively observe the Torah and its commandments in a spirit of self-sacrifice. At the same time, he was shown what joy this service would bring about in the heavens Above. In the light of what his eyes then beheld, Moshe Rabbeinu became exceedingly humble; as it is written, (Bamidbar 12:3), “The man Moshe was very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth.” (Sefer HaMaamarim). The word that stands out is “self-sacrifice,” what Brian was all about, always sacrificing his own time for others.
Also in sefer Devarim the word simcha appears no less than 12 times. The clear and unequivocal message is that to leave a state of exile and achieve redemption, pure simcha is necessary and that was Brian’s essence, simchat hachaim. Anyone around him was influenced by his utter embrace of life and constant smiling aura representative of a celebratory existence matching to what is required for redemption as it says in Isaiah (12:3), “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” and in Psalms (30:5) it says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
The morning is here. As noted by many rabbanim, Mashiach is here waiting to be infused with the spirit to reveal himself. If you rearrange the letters of Mashiach you come out with yismach, “to be happy,” the necessary ingredient now needed to bring Mashiach. Learn from Brian how to make him appear immediately; don’t only be conscious by the Daf, but love it, embrace it, celebrate that you were given the Gemara to learn. Appreciation, celebration, smiling, enthusiasm, wonderment and a love of life is what Brian was all about. He affected many, but his example should not just affect many, but cause all of klal Yisroel to be in a state of “Ivdu et Hashem b’simcha,” (Psalms 100:2), namely, what is an eved Hashem? He is b’simcha. And when we mourn the loss properly of Brian, a Beit HaMikdash onto itself, we can immediately celebrate in happiness the building of the third Beit HaMikdash as as it states in the Gemara (Bava Batra 60b) that anyone who mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will merit and see its joy, as it is stated: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all that love her; rejoice for joy with her, all that mourn for her” (Isaiah 66:10). Not only will we rejoice with Mashiach, but ultimately with Brian himself when techiyat hametim is ushered in where we will then also be reunited with all of our family, friends and brethren.
By Steven Genack
Steven Genack is the author of “Articles, Anecdotes & Insights,” Genack/Genechovsky Torah from Gefen Press.