I went to the Frenkels home to pay a shiva call. I wondered if my presence would make one iota of difference. I knew that I’d be one of the countless, nameless faces that the Frenkels would not recognize, yet I felt the need to come and express my condolences. Even if I did not get the opportunity to speak a word during my visit, their son’s death had a profound impact on my life and I needed to testify to that. A month ago I was but a stranger connected only by nation, but now by bonds of shared pain and purpose.
I managed to get maybe six feet across from Racheli Frenkel, watching in amazement as she received people one by one. They came to comfort her and yet I am convinced it was the opposite that was taking place. I watched her actively receive each individual with full attention and grace making them feel valued and imbued with purpose. I was inspired by her very being. I saw in her, beauty, strength and dignity. I saw selflessness at a time she had every right to recoil into her own emotion and sadness and yet amazingly, she defied all that, continually giving from what seemed to be an unlimited resource. I saw what I believe to be the light of G-d on her face. What I experienced in a short stay in Racheli’s tent I will never forget. I saw an embodiment of a living Torah. I only hope that we can follow her lead and continue in the path she has paved of true avodat Hashem, in every act big and small with both dignity and pride to be a member of this nation of purpose and beauty.
Racheli, I thank you for being a living, breathing example of all that is good and right in the world. May G-d bless and give strength to all the mourners and may we be zoche to stand proud together in a future of promise and holiness.