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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

After Mirel Deitsch lost her daughter

Mrs. Mirel Deitsch a”h was no stranger to pain and loss. Her father passed away when she was a young girl during the Siege of Leningrad in 1941 and his body was never recovered. Her mother passed away when she was 16 years old. She survived communist Russia and the War. Her husband passed away at the age of 50. Eight years later, her daughter, Alta Shula Schwartz, passed away at the age of 29, leaving behind a widower and seven young orphans. Then, on the 4th of Nissan 5746 (1986), her 36-year-old daughter, Rochel Leah Schusterman, passed away, leaving behind a widower and 11 young orphans.

A few weeks after Rochel Leah’s passing, Mirel Deitsch wrote a letter to the Rebbe, first expressing that she and her family were brokenhearted, engulfed in pain and sorrow, and then asked the question, “Why did Hashem do this?!” The Rebbe responded (free translation; underlined text as in the original): “Obviously, there is altogether no time for this, since the effort of every single member of the family sheyichyu must be put into sweetening the lives of the orphans shlita and the widower shlita, etc. But [I urge you] not to investigate the ways of Hashem. I will mention all this at the resting place [of the Rebbe Rayatz].”  I recently taught this letter of the Rebbe in one of my classes. At the conclusion of the course I assigned the students to write an essay on one of the many letters we had learned. One student chose the above letter and here’s the gist of what she wrote:

I first felt that this answer was very harsh and figured that the Rebbe must have known that she can handle it. Then I thought that the Rebbe was trying to help her to be productive instead of getting stuck in self-pity. But now I realize that it’s much more than that. Recently, I found myself asking questions such as “Why did Hashem do this? Why is there war in my country [Ukraine]? Why must people flee their homes?” And as time passed, I saw more and more people like myself feeling down and helpless. Then, I had an opportunity to help fundraise for the people of my community. As I got involved, I felt myself becoming more positive, upbeat, and able to go back to my regular responsibilities—instead of neglecting them and wallowing in self-pity, as I’d been doing. I see clearly that what the Rebbe gave Mrs. Deitsch was nothing less than love and, most importantly, the cure to her problem. He empowered her with a mission: Help those who are suffering and you will also be helping yourself. Mrs. Deitsch passed away on the 27th of Tammuz 5754 (1994) and her family attests that the last eight years of her life, after receiving and following the Rebbe’s advice, were her best. Since her passing, her descendants suffered the tragic loss of five more family members, R”l. Actually, her son Zalman’s yahrzeit is today, the 29th of Tammuz, and his brother Yaisef’s next week, on the 8th of Menachem Av. As a married-in member of the family, I can attest to the fact that this incredible family still lives by the Rebbe’s guidance to Bubby Deitsch. And now I see that the Rebbe’s guidance continues to heal one girl from the Ukraine as well as countless others. On a global level, the Rebbe always encouraged us to learn about the Beis Hamikdash during the Three Weeks. Wallowing in the sorrows of galus R”l won’t get us out of here. But getting involved in preparing ourselves and the world for the coming of Moshiach and the third Beis Hamikdash will.  May Hashem help that no one should know of any suffering and we should be able to share in each other’s joys and celebrations. And, of course, to celebrate the arrival of Moshiach now. Gut Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

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