Thursday, December 4, 2008

"When Tragedy Strikes" A Beautiful Letter of The Rebbe.

The following is a beautiful letter of the Rebbe that was sent to Mrs. Rose Goldfield, sister of the famed Chassid Reb Zalman Jaffe o.b.m. On March 17, 1975, Mrs. Goldfield, who resided in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Jerusalem, had lost her son in a car accident, which left her devastated. The Rebbe responded with a letter that ultimately consoled her.

As Rabbi Jaffe relates in his famous diaries, My Encounter with the Rebbe:

On Erev Pesach, 5735 [March 26, 1975], the Rebbe wrote to me a beautiful Pesach-letter. At the end was the following postscript:

"P.S. The copy of my letter is sent to you confidentially. I was prompted to write to your sister by your report, which is also what prompted me to write in unusual for me terms. May G-d grant that henceforth, at any rate, she will find a growing measure of peace of mind."

Attached to this letter below is an interesting picture of the Rebbe, courtesy of the

By the Grace of G-d

5th of Nissan, 5735 [March 17, 1975]

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mrs. Rose Goldfield

13 Yam Suf

Ramat Eshkol, Jerusalem

Blessing and Greeting:

I am in receipt of your correspondence, and trust that you received my regards through your brother R' Zalmen who was here for the Yud Shevat observance.

I must reiterate again what was said when you were here in regard to bitochon [trust] in G-d, that all He does is for the good. It is not easy to accept the passing of a near and dear one; but since our Torah, which is called Toras Chesed and Toras Chayim [Torah of kindness and Torah of life], our guide in life, sets limits to mourning periods, it is clear that when the period ends it is no good to extend it – not good, not only because it disturbs the life that must go on here on earth, but also because it does not please the soul that is in the World of Truth.

A further point which, I believe, I mentioned during our conversation, but apparently from your letter not

emphatically enough, is this: It would be contrary to plain common sense to assume that a sickness, or accident, and the like, could affect the soul, for such physical things can affect only the physical body and its union with the soul, but certainly not the soul itself.

It is also self-evident that the relationship between parents and children is in essence and content a spiritual one, transcending time and space – of qualities that are not subject to the influence of bodily accident, disease, etc.

It follows that when a close person passes on, by the will of G-d, those left here can no longer see him with their eyes or hear him with their ears; but the soul, in the World of Truth, can see and hear. And when he sees that the relatives are overly disturbed by his physical absence, it is saddened; and, conversely, when it sees that after the mourning period prescribed by the Torah a normal and fully productive life is resumed, it can happily rest in peace.

Needless to say, in order that the above be accepted not only intellectually but actually implemented in everyday life, it is necessary to be occupied, preferably involved, with matters of "personal" interest and gratification. As I also mentioned in our conversation, every Jew has a most gratifying and edifying task of spreading light in the world through promoting yiddishkeit [Judaism]. Particularly, as in your case, where one can be of so much help and inspiration to children and grandchildren who look up to you and your husband for en-couragement, wisdom, etc.

Here is also the answer to your question, what you can do for the soul of the dear one. Spreading yiddishkeit around you effectively, displaying simple Yiddish faith in G-d and in His benevolent Providence, doing all the good work that has to be done with confidence and peace of mind – this is what truly gratifies the soul in Olam haEmes [World of Truth], in addition to fulfilling your personal and most lofty mission in life as a daughter of our Mothers Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, and therefore also serving as an inspiring example for others to emulate.

It is possible to enlarge upon the above, but knowing your family background and tradition, I trust the above will suffice. I might add, however, that one must be aware of the yetzer-hara [evil inclination] who is very crafty and knows that certain people cannot be approached openly and without disguise. So he tries to trick them by disguising himself in a mantle of piety and emotionalism, etc.,

saying: You know, G-d has prescribed a period of mourning, which shows that it is the right thing to do; so why not do more than that and extend the period? In this way, he may have a chance to succeed in distracting the person from the fact that at the end of the said period, the Torah requires the Jew to serve G-d with joy. The yetzer-hara will even encourage a person to give tzedokah [charity] in memory of the soul, learn Torah and do mitzvos in memory of the soul, except that in each case it be associated with sadness and pain. But, as indicated, this is exactly contrary to the objective, which is to cause pleasure and gratification to the soul.

May G-d grant that, inasmuch [as] we are approaching the Festival of Our Freedom, including also freedom from everything that distracts a Jew from serving G-d wholeheartedly and with joy, that this should be so also with you, in the midst of all our people, and that you should be a source of inspiration and strength to your husband, children and grandchildren, and all around you."

Reprinted with permission from the forthcoming volume of My Encounter with the Rebbe, volume two,

Good Shabbos.