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Then I said to you, "Do not be broken and do not fear them. Hashem, your G-d, Who goes before you -- He shall make war for you, like everything He did for you in Egypt, before your eyes. And in the Wilderness, as you have seen, that Hashem, your G-d, bore you, as a man carries his son, on the entire way that you traveled, until you arrived at this place" (Devarim 1:29-31).One of things Moshe Rabbeinu was trying to impress upon the Israelites, in his final address to them before he died, is that they should realize that Hashem is actually like a father to us. He loves us and takes care of all of our needs. Consequently, we should love Him and trust in Him always.
My grandmother's sister, Tzipporah Emmer, o.b.m., had a regal build and a personality to match. In the family, she was known simply as "Tante" - Aunt - a title which seemed to say it all and needed no further clarification. In her forceful manner, she usually got her way. A story the family is fond of repeating is one which she herself had related. A devout woman, she lived alone in the ultra-Orthodox, Chassidic neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. One day, after shopping in New York City, she had missed the bus which was to take her over the Williamsburg Bridge. Although it was quite late, she wasn't the least worried. She simply made her way to the traffic light before the bridge and scanned the constant stream of traffic in which people fought dangerously among themselves to be first. When she decided which of the drivers she preferred to go with, she said to herself - in a tone fitting a royal decree - "This man will take me home." She then stepped off of the sidewalk into the street and pointed at the chosen driver in a way which did not ask - "Would you please give me a lift?", but, rather demanded something like, "If you know what's good for you Buddy, you better stop next to me and take me along with you!" And, apparently grasping the not so veiled message, that's exactly what he did - lucky for him - and Tante was driven home in style.
Understandably, Tante was not too popular in the family, and although she was alone and lonesome, not too many people came to visit her and not too often. When someone did go to see her, he or she usually regretted it. Notwithstanding, being a yeshiva bachur trained in the Torah's ways to be kind to the less fortunate, I would try to visit her whenever I could. When I got my driver's license, on my eighteenth birthday, it became easier to go see her since my father, may he be well, always trusted me with his car.
Before the Passover of my nineteenth year, I visited Tante. She was very happy to see me, and, over tea and cookies, she mentioned to me that she had a tremendous problem which she could not solve. For years, she would spend Pesach by a family in New Square, New York, since she hadn't the strength to prepare for the holiday herself. Now, in her advanced age, she suffered from excruciating pains in her feet and could not take the few steps necessary to board the bus which would normally take her to her destination. It was obvious to both of us that no one in the family would want to drive her there. She just did not know what she could possibly do.
Tante was just innocently pouring out her heart to me, and hadn't thought for a moment that her young great-nephew could possibly have a solution - let alone be the solution. To her great surprise I told her, "Tante, I'm a big boy already. I have a driver's license now and Daddy lets me take his car whenever I need it. I'll come and pick you up Erev Pesach and I'll drive you to New Square. Don't worry about a thing. I'm happy to do it. It's a very big mitzvah."
Tante was flabbergasted and overjoyed at her salvation and we made up a time for me to pick her up after burning the chametz that morning. When I came at the agreed upon time, I found her waiting for me in the street. I felt badly as she explained to me that since she had sold the entire apartment to a non-Jew for the week of Passover, she had thought that she was not allowed to remain in "his" apartment any longer. You see, although Tante was extremely pious, she had never had any formal Jewish education and was ignorant of the intricacies of the Halachah.
I got Tante and her few belongings into the car and headed for New Square. On the radio, they were playing the Cantor Moishe Oisher's rendition of the Passover Seder. I thought that Tante would appreciate it so I made the volume louder and told her who was singing. When she heard the name, she commented, "May he rot in Hell with his shikse (non-Jewish) wife!"
Although the ride took about an hour and a half, and although Tante was very grateful, I don't remember her saying thank you to me - although she probably did. What always stood out most in my mind was that throughout the trip, I heard her mumbling in Yiddish, as if she were talking to herself. When I made an effort to hear what she was saying, I realized that she was indeed talking, but not to herself; rather, to Hashem. The few repeated sentences which I picked up, roughly translated, went something like this: "My Dear Father. I love You so much. You have always taken care of me - since I was a child and even until this very day. I am so grateful to You. It was You Who gave Ben Zion the sechel (sense) to suddenly come and visit me before Pesach. And it was You Who inspired him to volunteer to drive me to New Square where I couldn't have possibly gone by bus in my condition. How can I thank You? How can I show my appreciation to You? You, my beloved Father. Who always takes care of my needs."
Again and again Tante repeated this thought in these and other words. The inspiration I got from hearing her "talk" to "her beloved Father" was ample reward for driving her to her destination. May her memory be a blessing to all of Klal Yisroel, Amen.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network