Dearest Rav Adin,
Our last face-to-face conversation, which took place exactly one year ago, was interrupted by the angel of death.
You were at home, surrounded by hundreds of diverse books. I knew you had read each of them, and so many more. After all, your thirst to know and to “let my people know” was unmatchable. You were a one-of-a-kind educator who was recognized globally for your trailblazing translation and commentary of the Bible, Talmud, Maimonides’ Mishne Torah, the Tanya, and your authorship of so many other books on Jewish mysticism, philosophy, and sociology.
But on that fateful day, I wasn’t calling to seek your wisdom or to ask for your saintly blessing, as I had done almost every two weeks, for the past 25 years. All I wanted was to wish you a “happy birthday” on the occasion of your 83rd birthday, and, in the words of the Song of Songs (2:14), to “let me see your face, and to let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your countenance is lovely.”
Of course, you did not disappoint. As soon as our eyes locked through our phone screens, I was transported to a heavenly abode beyond time and space. Your smile shone as the rays of the sun. Your gaze pierced my soul. And in spite of your speech impediments due to a stroke that you had suffered three years prior, your loving words were palpably clear.
After a brief exchange that included an update on my family and on our Rabbinic work, you asked, as you often did, that I should continue to “do more and more and more.” I promised that I would.
I then allowed my heart to take over, and I exclaimed: “Rav Adin, I love you!” Your smile grew even brighter, and you responded with a simple yet soulful “thank you.”
My plan was to update you on my promise shortly thereafter, but just two weeks after that unforgettable conversation, you returned your soul to our Creator. Ever since our world has become dimmer, and our lives – lonelier.
My beloved Rav Adin, don’t get me wrong. Your everlasting voice still guides us, especially during moments of uncertainty and melancholy. A few months ago, during a moment of profound vulnerability, my daughter saw me cry. When she asked me why I was crying, I told her the truth: “I miss Rav Adin,” I revealed to her. But she retorted: “Abba, Rav Adin wouldn’t have wanted you to cry; he would’ve wanted you to do a Mitzvah instead.” At that moment I knew that you were speaking through her.
You have also appeared in our dreams several times. In one of them, I even hugged you so tightly, refusing to let you go… It reminded me of the time, approximately five years ago when we were driving together from New York city to Yale University where you were invited to speak. The conversation turned to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, whose soul was bound with yours. You spoke then about how Hassidim hug their teacher, their Rebbe, with “spiritual hugs.” You also explained how spiritual hugs are much more powerful than physical hugs because they include much more than our arms. “When a hassid gives his Rebbe a spiritual hug,” you mentioned, “he also wraps him with his mind, his heart, and his soul.”
Yet, above all, your marching orders to “do more and more and more,” are continuing to mold our lives and the lives of so many others, today, perhaps more than ever.
Just in the past year alone, close to two thousand new Mitzvahs were added to our Scottsdale’s Congregation Beth Tefillah’s “Mitzvah bank” in your honor by so many beautiful souls. We even founded Nishmat Adin – Shalhevet Scottsdale, a new Jewish High-School — for all Jews of Arizona and beyond — that bears your name, and that is imbued with your ideology. And the list goes on and on…
Still and all, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe once told you with a radiant smile, during one of your visits to New York, “hearing is not like seeing.” Indeed, seeing is so much more powerful. And although we can hear you countless times every day, we miss seeing you and your shining countenance, profoundly.
And so, today, exactly one year since I last saw you, I pray, with flowing tears, for the day when “the dead will live, and their bodies will rise,” (Isaiah 26:19). Oh, how we wait to see you once again!
“We will then shout for joy as we will see the return of G-d to Zion, with our own, united eyes,” (Isaiah 52:8). May it happen speedily. Until then, we hope to make you proud.
Happy birthday, our beloved Rav Adin.
With infinite love,
Your eternal student, Pinny