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November 21, 2013: Shiva – The Rabbi’s Visit

Here’s another story from the shiva that people seemed to like.

Rabbi Singer is our (I guess “my,” but it just seems wrong to write that) spiritual mentor from Potomac, Maryland. But he is much more than our (again, I’ll just leave it I guess) “Rabbi.” He is one of the wisest and funniest people I know, usually not a very common combination. He can express volumes with just a look in his eyes or a shrug of his shoulders.

But more than anything else, he is and will always be, my friend.

He called me about 2 weeks ago and told me that he was coming to Israel to visit us. Stella had been slipping. She could no longer stand, and most painful to me, did not make sense most of the time. It cut me like a knife when she would ask me a simple question and within minutes ask the same thing. (“Is everything ready for Shabbos?” On a Monday.)

I told the Rabbi that honestly, I did not know if he would be in time to see her or would just be attending a funeral or shiva call. He told me that it didn’t matter, he was coming.

His visit was tremendous for me. Although he has two sons studying in Israel, he only spent one day with them and three with me. We talked about old times and even as I was in pain, he made me smile from time to time.

Friday morning we were downstairs and I heard Stella’s voice. I ran up and asked if she needed something.

“Is Rabbi Singer here?” she asked.

“Yes, we’re just downstairs,” I answered.

“Well, then please send him up so I can speak with him.”

Neither the Rabbi nor I knew what to expect when we entered the bedroom. At that point, even her closest friends could not visit. Yet when we entered the room, there she was sitting up in bed with a huge smile on her face.

“Rabbi Singer, how are YOU?” she asked.

A little surprised since he knew about her condition and mental state, he just said, “I’m fine. How are YOU Stella?”

“Baruch Hashem. Thank you for coming. Tell me about your children.”

Stella then asked about each one of the Singer children by name. What they were up to, where they were living, she even knew how many grandchildren had been born since we had lived in Potomac eight years ago. She remembered more details about the lives of the Singer family than me.

After about ten minutes she said she was getting tired and so we said good-bye and went back downstairs.

That was the last real conversation she ever had.

But I know my wife. And I knew, that no matter what war was raging for control of her mind, she knew that he had travelled a great distance and that she did not want the last impression of a man she greatly admired to be of a dying woman who didn’t know what day it was.

She she summoned up what last strength she had left and pushed the fog aside for him.

And that is just one more story of a person who really “got” it and always used whatever power she had for good.

The world has lost a great person.

And I have lost even more.

I miss her so much.

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