If you were to die today, would your last moments be spent regretting that you had not sufficiently expressed your love and appreciation for those you love, or would you at least have the comfort of knowing that those you leave behind know how much you love and appreciate them? Would you be regretting not having done everything in your power to have the best relationship possible? Or would you at least know that none of the time you had had together was wasted?
Three years ago I read an article that I have never forgotten. I could remember neither the title nor the author, and I was not entirely sure of the newspaper or the year in which it appeared either, so it took the best part of a day to track it down. Perhaps when you hear about it, you will understand why I was determined to find it.
The title of this moving article is “The house where David Rosenzweig lives”; it is by Christie Blatchford, and it appeared in The National Post on 29th July, 2002. You can obtain the article yourself from this site. The article began:
Last Friday evening marked only the second Sabbath without David Rosenzweig upon the planet.
This “big, handsome man who so filled this house and the hearts in it” had been murdered by a knifeman in the street, probably just because he was Jewish. The article was about the incredible love he and his wife and family had for one another. He was 49, his widow was 46, and they had been passionately married for nearly 25 years. He left children aged eight to 24 and a new baby grandchild. In the article that seemed to have been written from the heart, Christie Blatchford wrote:
Mr. Rosenzweig loved Shabbas with a passion. He was a man of inexhaustible appetite for life, period—passionate about his family, his work as a chartered accountant, his daily prayers, about his study of the Torah, about his first grandchild, little Avi, only three months old, whom he would beg to hold and walk whenever the baby woke up in the night—but Shabbas is who he really was. He treasured it such that the Rosenzweigs have long been in the habit of lighting the candles early, before the traditional start at sundown, because, like the child who can't sleep on Christmas morning, Mr. Rozenzweig simply couldn't wait for this time every, week, because he wanted more of it.
After his death, his family continued to honour their traditions, determined not to be destroyed by the loss of the head of the household they had all loved so much. Mr. Rosenzweig's wife said, “I can't bear to think he will never be back.” but she told her children that their lovely father and his righteousness was in each of them, and they had a responsibility
“to live the same way Daddy did; to work hard, like Daddy did; to love one another, as Daddy loved you: to be kind, as Daddy was.”
Mrs. Rosenzweig's mother whispered to Christie Blatchford, “You see why my daughter is so beautiful? Her soul shows through on her face.”
Mr. Rosenzweig had been exceptionally kind to his mother-in-law when her husband had died, and he was also a devoted son to his own mother, who had lost virtually her whole family in the Holocaust.
“I don't believe really this has happened to me,” she said, “to my beautiful children.”
In this article, Christie Blatchford painted an exquisite word picture of Mr. Rosenzweig's life and goodness, of his devotion to and deep love for his family, and of his close-knit extended family sitting around the Shabbas table, mourning their loss and trying to be strong.
Every morning, when Chavie Rosenzweig wakes up, “I say to David, 1 can't believe it's another day without you.”
And then, she pulls herself together, and prepares to face the world in the way that would surely make his heart burst with pride, but will never fill the big chair that sits empty at the head of the table.
She said of her husband's amazing ability to get so much done in a day and still have time to have lunch with one of his children, to help them with their homework, and to do so much for so many: “His tiredness would not limit his goodness.”
Mrs. Rosenzweig still remembers how as a young woman newly engaged, she was so excited by her coming marriage that she could hardly study for her exams at York University and actually wrote one of her professors a note, begging his indulgence. (This trait, to be crazy about the men in their lives, runs in the family. Her daughter spotted her future husband when she was just 15 and found him so utterly fetching she would actually shriek with joy whenever she got a glimpse of him.)
But what is so inspiring to me about the relationship of Mr. And Mrs. Rosenzweig is the intensity of their positive regard and reverence for one another, and the fact that they expressed this esteem every single day. “The only surprise about David,” Mrs. Rosenzweig said, “is that he just got better.”
David Rosenzweig lived in this house, surrounded by the love of these people. Their greatest solace is that they loved him unreservedly every day, and told him so, and he them; there is nothing important among them that was left unsaid. [. . .]
“We all knew who we had. It's not as if we knew after the fact. I told him every day he was yotzai meen haklal—it means exceptional—and he said it to me in return.”
It is so important to look at your spouse with a good eye—to look for the good, to assume the best, to give the benefit of the doubt, and to find the admirable—and to express it. The other person cannot know how you feel or what you think unless you tell him or her. And when you do express these things, it makes those you love feel appreciated and loved; it makes them feel visible; it makes their hearts sing. And when people feel good, they do good, they achieve more, they give more, they love more. It is easy to see how this family developed such deep, meaningful, and actively devoted love and regard for one another, and why their relationships were so strong. I wish the same for everyone.
Read the whole article. There is so much more to it than the little I have quoted. You can find it by searching for “Rosenzweig” in the National Post on this site.