My father ob”m Shlomo Ben Boruch (Abish) passed away 27 of Tamuz 5774, July 25, 2014.
My father ob”m was a man of many choices. To the casual observer, he seemed to live a charmed, serene and successful life, with a wonderful family. Yet, behind the scenes, he had many choices to make. Born in Czechoslovakia, he chose to listen to his mother, and flee his house and family to the forest in advance of the murderous Germans and their henchmen, and merited to survive the war. His parents, seven of eight siblings and some aunts and uncles were all murdered. He chose to be active and joined the Russian irregular partisans. He chose to identify himself as a Jew, notwithstanding that after fighting the Germans by day, the Jewish kids had to rotate and post watchmen by night to prevent their own comrade-in-arms from murdering them for their boots or some whimsical motive. He chose to carry his Tfillin in his pocket throughout the war. As my father said; if all else fails at least I’ll have my Tfillin to wear daily. Later he found in the pocket of a German he killed, a camera, which upon developing, found pictures of his own friends being hung, and all the cultured Germans posing and smiling.
(Astounding; An advanced culture with flexible moral foundations, can dehumanize themselves in their quest for advancement, and how ironic in that they had a proactive policy to dehumanize their victims, the very thing that they were failing in.) (If you can’t compete; destroy)
Later, having risen to the rank of personal driver to a Russian General, after the war in the four state Berlin, he slipped over to the American side and instead of frolicking in post war Vienna, an era of parties; he chose to take up studies in a Vienna university.
Subsequently, when he succeeded to arrive in Montreal, in the early 50’s, at a time of minimal religious development in North America, he chose to join and become president of a shul called “Tiferes Bochurim” a shul of great influence in the development of post war Jewry in Montreal and Toronto.
He chose, at great sacrifice and serious depravation, to not work on the Shabbat, and merited to open his own successful and long running (till this day) business. My father was a dapper young man, later with a pocket full of money, yet chose to not follow his friends into the nightlife scene (See Talmud Berochos 32a which insinuates that a young man in such a situation is practically expected to sin).
He chose to marry my mother, (Rachel Blau, daughter of Horav Moshe Blau one of the official Rabbis of Bnei Brak Israel and its surrounding suburbs- Pardes Katz,) a woman of noble lineage, and fine reputation, and merited to have all his descendants to be moral, religious and upstanding citizens. He chose to be in shul every morning at 527 am, (and one year, to bring me along to be in cheder at 630 am!) and merited a long life (See Talmud Berochos 8a), which speaks of men who pray in shul morning and evening merit long life. He chose to have his house next to shul, and merited to keep going to shul till the end of his life. In his 90’s, he still was able and did drive independently to New York (from Montreal). He lived till a ripe age of 90’s, when, after a brief illness he passed away peacefully in his own bed at home, faithfully attended to by his wife. Father ob”m passed away Friday morning at 940, and had the great merit to be buried with full Jewish rites and funeral by 4 in the afternoon ready to meet his maker, as was his custom every erev Shabbat; being ready in time or early. (And chose to always close his business on Fridays at one.) My father ob”m had an expression he was wont to say; “a yeder De’rum, hot zein V’rum – “Every therefore - has its because”. How apropos to what we are saying; choices have consequences. My father ob”m can be characterized as being very deliberate. He wasn’t seen to create grandiose or flamboyant changes. When one is mindful of what one does, then one has the mindset and hopefully the Divine assistance to choose wisely. We are familiar with the adage (Talmud- Tomid32a) “who is wise? One who sees the future”, and in this case, I would like to add, from the very first Mishnah in Ethics; “be deliberate in Judgement”. Take this to also mean judging one’s own actions. This characteristic of my father also allowed him to be known as never getting into any argument with anyone, ever. Not all choices are momentous, yet never the less some are. One does not need only the wisdom of wise choice, but also the mindset of realizing that there are choices to be made. May we use this week’s Parshah, and this role model to be mindful of the choices we make, and may we merit to receive Divine assistance in making the right choices. Shabbat Shalom J