12 Jan REMEMBERING RABBI YEHUDA KELEMER ZT”L
This past erev shabbos , the West Hempstead Community, and Klal Yisroel at large, lost a tremendous Talmid Chochom and Tzaddik, Harav Yehuda Kelemer ZT”L. I would like to share some of Rav Kelemer’s words of Torah as a small way to illustrate the greatness of the man and the depth of our loss. In parshas vayeira when the malochim tell Avrohom that Sarah will finally have a child, they say “ ”.ךתשא הרשל ןב הנהו This is in stark contrast to the haftorah where the prophet Elisha tells the Shunammite woman “ ”.ןב תקבוח תא היח תעכ Translated – in a year from now you will be embracing a child. Why doesn’t Elisha also just say you will have a child? What is the meaning of the dramatic characterization that she will be cradling a baby? Rabbi Kelemer explained that by Avrohom these were angels not human beings and therefore they could not comprehend what it means to have a child. But by the Shunammite woman, Elisha – while a prophet – was a human with human feelings. He understood her pain and so when he gave her the good news he expressed it in sympathetic comforting language. “You will cradle your baby in your arms and hold him tight as you care for him.” An angel cannot possibly transmit this compassion. Only a fellow human being. Anyone who knew our Rabbi was familiar with his incredible compassion and sensitivity. He lived by these words. Rabbi Kelemer zt”l cradled each person who came to him for help and advice like a mother would her child. Everyone felt their own personal connection to him. One year during the three weeks he posed the question, why do we refrain from blessing the brocho of ונייחהש during this time? As always, he proceeded to give over a profound and learned explanation, so powerful that to this day I can still say it over almost verbatim. He said that during this time of mourning for the destruction of our two תושדקמ יתב we need to realize that this is not our natural way of existence. As a nation we cannot accept our current situation without the beis hamikdash as status quo. It’s not the way things should be. Therefore during this time we do not have the presence of mind needed to recite ונייחהש with simcha. As a proof to this theory he brought a Rebbe Akiva Eiger in shulchan aruch O”C siman גכר where they bring down the following halacha. If a father dies and leaves his son a large inheritance, then the son makes the bracha of ונייחהש . What about if ל״ר a son dies and leaves his father a large inheritance? Unfortunately, although the father is left with a sizable inheritance from his son, he is nonetheless bereft from his deceased child. Would the mourning man say a ונייחהש on this sad, yet tremendous newfound fortune? R’ Akiva Eiger answers no! He explains based on a Gemara in bava basra that although the father has now gained a large sum of money, the natural life cycle has been broken. Children are supposed to inherit from their parents. Not visa versa. There is no greater tragedy than a parent burying a child, and therefore, no matter the financial windfall, no bracha is recited. Rabbi Kelemer used this as a proof to his premise saying there is no greater national tragedy for klal yisroel than the loss of the beis hamikdash. The natural cycle is broken. The Jewish people left without a Beis Hamikdash is akin to a parent left without their child. For so many of us, hundreds of families and thousands of individuals, we never imagined an existence without our revered Rov. He was our beis hamikdash – our connection to Hashem on this earth. We cannot imagine our community without his shiurim, leadership and unparalleled concern for each and every one of us. With him in our midst, no matter what life threw at you, Rabbi Kelemer was a calm and guiding presence who somehow had siyatoh d’shmayoh and heavenly wisdom to navigate any storm. He carried us all on his shoulders. He was a gentle giant in torah and chessed. Baruch dayan haemes – Blessed is He who has taken from us what we can never replace. Woe to us who are bereft of our Rov. May Hashem provide us the strength, renew us and sustain us ( ונמיקו וניחהשׁ ), as we learn to navigate by the light left behind by our morah d’asra harav hagaon rav Yehuda ben Dov Ber, zt”l.