Baruch Dayan He’Emes (Blessed are You, G‑d, the Judge of the Truth).
This morning, I lost a dear friend and great role model.
Her name was Chaya Mindel bas Aryeh Leib. She was my husband’s first cousin and one of the greatest women I know. She had a very challenging life, but met every experience with simplicity, sensibility, perspective and great devotion to Hakadosh Baruch Hu (G-d).
She was on a higher spiritual level than almost anyone I know. I always felt that I could not even hope to emulate her, yet every moment that I spent with her taught me so much. Chaya a’h remains for me the paradigm of an Isha Tzidchanis (righteous woman). These are some of the many lessons that she taught me.
Keep Life Simple
Chaya a’h filled her time with helping others and connecting to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. She simplified the other parts of her life so that she could maximize the time and energy spent on those very important things. That is the type of simplicity that is not simple.
Hold Yourself to a Higher Standard Than Everyone Else. Great People Make Others Feel Big.
In Chaya’s presence, I often felt humble and rather foolish, because I am on a much lower spiritual level than her. Yet, she always saw the meaning in the things that I tried to do and acknowledged them. She made everyone around her feel big, but never lowered her own standard. Even when she was in terrible pain, she was polite and appreciative to those around her.
Advocate. Advocate. Advocate.
Chaya advocated for those around her who needed advocating. She called, wrote letters and did whatever it took to advocate and help. She left no stone unturned if someone needed something. I was often surprised to find that Chaya had found and enlisted the support and admiration of the experts in whatever field she needed. Chaya made it look simple, but it wasn’t.
Teach and Share What You Know
Whatever Chaya learned, she shared with those who could benefit from this knowledge. She helped others with similar challenges to her own. She gave shiurim (Torah lectures), to her friends and neighbors even when she was quite ill, to share the words of Torah that resonated so deeply within her.
When the Going Gets Tough, Stay Devoted and True
I watched Chaya daven (pray) through great pain and I was envious of the connection that she had with G-d, even when she was suffering. She made sacrifices for Torah learning, even to her last breath. Her emuna peshuta (simple faith) shown through, even when the going was so tough. Emuna peshuta at that level is not simple. It is profound.
T’hay nafsha tzrurah b’tzror hachaim (May her soul be bound in the bond of life)