This post dedicated with love and respect to the holy neshamot of Esther Nechama bas Ahron Meir and Ella Yehudis bas Shraga Feivel.
We of the Baltimore kehilla lost two lovely friends during Pesach. The honor of the Yomim Tovim prevented us from mourning them fully during the time we were experiencing their loss. Yet we know that neither of them would have wanted us to neglect our responsibilities to Pesach to grieve. They were as different as roses and daisies; and I loved the light and color and freshness each of them added to our community.
I want to share with you some correspondence between these two great neshamot, from just days before they left this world. This conversation took place in a special blog set up by family members for Esther Nechama, zt"l, on a marvelous site called CaringBridge.
[From Judy] FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2011 2:18 PM, EDT
Dear Esther Nechama,
I don't want to miss the opportunity to wish you and your family a beautiful Shabbas. May the light that has been shining on you and your family this past week continue to burn brightly. Only good health and simchas!
[From Esther Nechama] SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2011 1:22 PM, CDT
There are so many people that need yeshuos and refuos and we daven that our tefilos will help. One of our constant visitors and fellow strugglers, Judy, is in dire need of our tefilos. Please take a moment to specifically include her in your tefilos. IYH, It will help her. Judy's name: Ella Yehudis bas Hinda Devora. May she have a refuah shlaima quickly and easily with no side effects. Thank you
[From Judy] TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2011 12:51 PM, EDT
Dearest Esther Nechama,
I finally have some temporary strength to check you blog, and I just want to say I love you dearly, and thank you and your eons of friends and admirers for adding me specifically to your tefillos. A new type of chemo is beginning tomorrow. My doctor is straightforward with me, as I am with her: I appreciate her care and honesty, but we all know eveything is in Hashem's hands. I will never stop davening for you, or keep you far from my heart. We are in this together!
Much much love, to you and to all those daveners we both know, and to all Klal Yisroel,
Ella Yehudis bas Hinda Devorah
There were other passages, but these were the last.
I won't deny it: I struggled mightily with the loss of these two ladies. It was a two-fisted sucker punch to the spiritual stomach. We lost Esther Nechama; and while we were still reeling from that blow, we lost Judy. My calendar was marked for April 29, when we had all agreed to take a bit of the shlissel challah in Judy's merit. My faith was sorely tested. Not in Hashem, nor in His plan. I don't only believe -- I know that He knows what He is doing, and everything will be proven out to have been for the best. But I struggled (and continue to struggle) with the question of whether or not our tefillot and recitation of King David's holy Tehillim make any difference in that plan.
But this post is about those two holy souls, and what it is to be a Jew. Here they were, both (as we later learned) on the very edge of death -- and they took time to write to or about each other, as if their own concerns were as nothing compared to this other lady's suffering. I don't believe they "hung out" a lot in life. But near the precipice where life turns into the next great and unknown adventure, they both rose to a greatness that negates the self, and makes others primary.
This is only part of the great beauty I have learned from Jewish teaching. It's not about me. It's about us, our connection to each other, our interaction with The Divine, our affect on time.
These women are both my heroes. I miss them in this world. I am so very grateful that Hashem decided I should have the blessing of knowing them. I have lost sisters.
May we all be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.
I send out my heartfelt prayers for the feelings of my dear friends, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goldberger, and their dear kehilla, in their time of loss, as well as to the precious families of these fine and special women. I know that they are absolutely proud of each of you.