Yesterday was the shloshim of my dearly departed husband Gershon zt”l. I still can’t quite get used to saying that. As I continue to walk with you, some of the special people with whom I remain on this path of life, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how thankful I am that you are in my life and how thankful I am to everyone for their tremendous support and love during my darkest moments. People have been calling from around the world. People have been emailing from around the world. People from around the world have been dropping off mysterious envelopes and presents and all types of care packages, anonymously of course 🙂
I want you to know that although I am unable to answer almost all of what is said these days, I have read EVERY email and received every letter and parcel of food or other and I am touched beyond words. Sometimes they make me cry. Sometimes they make me appreciate people and life so much. Sometimes, they just help me to feel. Thank you for being alive and for having the courage to be part of my pain.
An amazing thing about pain, is that although it hurts, it has a tremendous power to break through what’s fake in this world and take us directly to the common bond we have with each other. It brings us, if we just let it, to a place of connection, common roots, common goals, and the reality of what’s important in life. We really all do know what’s real and what this place is supposed to be about; we just get distracted sometimes. Pain, and often trauma, allows us to access the point of higher love and higher peace because it has a way of washing away the ego, and what’s left is the place where G-d resides. All of us have that place in common. All of us are just drops of one big beautiful ocean. All of us love each other so deeply at that point, because all of us are one.
My husband was sent here, amongst other things, I believe, to teach us all that we can do it. We can be supernatural. We can be truly G-dly – if we try and try hard. Altruistic giving and righteousness are not just for white-bearded holy men born to a long dynasty of great sages. Every one of us has the potential and can be holy. Every one of us can be pure. He did not accomplish it all in a day. He used each day to get closer. He set goals each day and used the time. Imagine 10 years of days that were used wisely – that’s 3,650 days! Imagine using each of these days by doing something to get closer to G-d. I bet you can get somewhere fantastic! At the shiva, Rebbetzin Nebensahl told me that a hundred years ago, in Baghdad, in the time of the great sage, the Ben Ish Chai, one would walk through a cemetery and see the following: “Here lies Sarah Belz, 100 year old grandmother, Lived 14 years”, “Here lies Abraham Green, 93 year old grandfather, lived 6 years”. Seems strange right? The Ben Ish Chai would write on their tombstones how many years he saw through spiritual eyes, that they ACTUALLY lived.
My husband didn’t get a day more in this world than he was supposed to. None of us do. The only question is, how did we fill our days? No one at the shiva or the levaya ever mentioned how accomplished he was in business. No one ever mentioned how impressive was his wardrobe or his possessions (they actually weren’t very impressive at all :-))
My sons go to Zilbermans – a very special school in the Old City where they learn 364 days a year (the only day that they don’t learn is Tisha B’Av). When the kids and families found out that my husband was the anonymous sponsor of free helium balloons to the community on birthdays and special occasions, they were so inspired that they started a program for the kids. Each child receives a booklet and is encouraged to find ways to make people happy. When they do the act of kindness, they write it down in the booklet. After they write 5 acts, they hand in their booklet and get a prize. 10 acts will win them a ticket to a lottery for a bigger prize. And of course, the donor of all the prizes wishes to remain anonymous.
These kids are consciously seeking out ways to make their friends and populace happy. Last week, at 7pm bedtime, I closed my door to the crowd of 9 year old boys outside begging for me to let them do something to help me – clean, put a child to bed, feed a baby. I felt like a chesed rockstar. I had so much nachas!
Below are pictures of the booklet. There is no reason that other schools can’t implement a similar program. There is no reason that another person can’t look for ways to make others happy, even if just once because of this message. In that way, you bring life to my late husband, life to yourself and nachas to the One who created us all and is rooting us on. I also have many other suggestions. But again, the only realistic goal is what you can accomplish TODAY as part of the greater goal.