July 11, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Highlighting: “Flashes of Greatness” By Rabbi Shlomo Landau. Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2024. Hardcover. 302 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422641033.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) In our community in Central New Jersey, there was a huge tragedy where two young teenage girls lost both of their parents within a relatively short period. A very kind and wonderful family opened their home and their hearts and offered to have the girls sit shivah in their home after the passing of the second parent. On one of the mornings of the shivah, I went to daven Shacharis at the beis ha’avel. As I entered, the host immediately approached me and said, “The most remarkable thing transpired here last night. Please do not leave after davening until I have shared this amazing story with you.” After davening, I approached the host, and here is the heartwarming tale that he shared:

Late last night, after all the guests had left the shivah house and we were getting ready to retire for the night, there was a soft knock at the front door. I was a bit surprised that anyone would come that late. But the knocking continued, and I went to the front door and peered through the peephole. What I saw nearly made me jump back. There was a woman in a face mask standing at my door! I inquired as to who she was and what she needed. She replied, “I am a Jewish woman from Brooklyn, and I apologize for my late arrival, but would it be okay to come in and speak with the orphaned girls?” I told her that I would ask the girls, and when they replied in the affirmative, I told her to go right in.

She apologized profusely for coming at such a late hour, but she added that she had an explanation.

“Please don’t be taken aback by my appearance. You see, less than a year ago on a fateful Friday night, we had a terrible fire in our home that claimed the lives of seven of my children. I, too, sustained serious burns, hence the burn mask that I am wearing. You can only imagine the nightmare that I have lived through over the last few months, but baruch Hashem, I am slowly starting to heal. Nevertheless, going in a car is extremely painful, as every bump and jolt irritates my many burns. This is why I arrived at such a late hour, as the kind woman who drove me here drove extra cautiously and substantially slower to ease the difficulty of the trip.”

At this point, the host interrupted her and remarked, “You must have been very close to the deceased to have undertaken the difficult journey! Correct?”

The woman replied, “Actually, I had never even heard of this family until today, when somebody shared their unfortunate story. But upon hearing that these two young girls were sitting shivah by themselves, I realized that I had a unique opportunity and immediately decided to work on finding a way of getting here.”

She continued, “Think about it for a moment—is there anything that anyone can tell these two young orphans that will make them feel better? Is there anyone who can give them hope? Can anyone tell them that it’s going to be okay? And if they do, the girls have a right to respond, ‘How do you know? Have you ever been a child bereft of both parents?’ But they will at least get some hope from me,” she remarked, “because I can look them in the eye and share with them my story of intense loss. I can candidly relate to them that a few months ago I would never have believed that I would find comfort and that I would ever start healing. Yet, miraculously, each day I feel just a bit better than the previous day, and I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

And that’s exactly what happened. With difficulty, the woman sat down directly across from the girls. She looked into their eyes and cried along with them, but she also gave them hope as she shared her tragic journey, chatting with them until the hour was very late, whereupon she gingerly stood up and took leave of the girls to begin her arduous trip back to Brooklyn.

Mi k’amcha Yisrael! Who is comparable to Your nation, Yisrael!

Reprinted from “Flashes of Greatness” by Rabbi Shlomo Landau with permission from the copyright holder, ArtScroll Mesorah Publications.

 

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