Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Lech Lecho 5776
Avraham, the Jewish People, Daas and Shabbos
In this week’s parasha we find an interesting exchange between Avraham and HaShem. HaShem promises Avraham that He will give him the Land as an inheritance. Avraham responds (Bereishis 15:8) vayomar HaShem Elokim bamah eidah ki irashena, He said, “My Lord, HaShem/Elokim: Whereby shall I know that I am to inherit it?” Hashem responds (Ibid verse 9-13) vayomer eilav kicha li eglah mishuleshes…. Vayomer liAvram yodoa teida ki ger yihyeh zaracha bieretz lo lahem vaavadum viinu osam arba meios shanah, and he said to him, “ Take to Me three heifers…” and he said to Avram, “Know with certainty that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own – and they will serve them, and they will oppress them – four hundred years.” The Gemara (Nedarim 32a) states that because Avraham asked bamah eidah, “Whereby shall I know that I am to inherit it?” he was punished with yodoa teida, “Know with certainty…” One must wonder what Avraham did wrong by asking for a sign that his descendants would inherit the Land? Furthermore, even if we were to say that this question was inappropriate, why was Avraham punished so harshly that the Jewish People had to be enslaved to the Egyptians for four hundred years? Lastly, if HaShem sought to punish Avraham for his inappropriate question, why did He first instruct him regarding the taking of the animals to make the pact? It would seem unusual that if one wishes to punish someone that he makes a pact with him?
In order to answer these questions, we must first gain an insight into the concept called Daas, literally translated as knowledge. When Avraham asked HaShem, “Whereby shall I know that I am to inherit it?” he certainly was not just saying, “HaShem, I need a sign that what You are promising me will come true.” Rather, Avraham was demonstrating to HaShem that he recognized that the gift of Eretz Yisroel is based on the Jewish People having a meaningful relationship with HaShem and His Torah. Nonetheless, Avraham posed this idea in a question statement, and this resulted in the Egyptian exile.
Daas is reflected in exile
HaShem informed Avraham that his descendants would be aliens in a land not their own – and they will serve them, and they will oppress them – four hundred years. Yet, HaShem revealed this to Avraham by prefacing this statement with the words yodoa teida, “know with certainty.” Why did HaShem use the same terminology that Avraham used when posing his question? The answer to this question is that HaShem was informing Avraham that his question necessitated a consequence, as he should have had more faith in HaShem than to ask this question. Nonetheless, the response was a way for HaShem to demonstrate his love for Avraham. This is evidenced later when HaShem wishes to inform Avraham that He will be destroying the city of Sodom and its surroundings. It is said (Bereishis 18:19) ki yidaativ limaan asher yitzaveh es banav vies baiso acharav vishamiru derech HaShem laasos tzedakah umishpat limaan havi HaShem al Avraham eis asher diber alav, “for I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of HaShem, doing charity and justice, in order that HaShem might then bring upon Avraham that which He had spoken of him.” Thus, we see that HaShem interacted with Avraham through the medium of Daas. This theme of Daas is extended to the Egyptian exile and its trials and tribulations. Prior to the end of the exile, after the Torah states that HaShem heard the cries of the Jewish People because of their enslavement, it is said (Shemos 2:25) vayar Elokim es binei Yisroel vayeida Elokim, G-d saw the Children of Israel; and G-d knew. Here again we see that the Torah uses the term of Daas to refer to HaShem’s sympathy and commiseration, so to speak, with the Jewish People.
Daas is reflected in the Torah
The Jewish People were redeemed from Egypt and subsequently they received the Torah at Sinai. The Generation of the Wilderness is referred to as the dor deah, the Generation of Knowledge, as HaShem expressed His endearment to the Jewish People by providing them with a miraculous existence so that they could study His Torah in peace. Thus, we see that when HaShem informed Avraham that yodoa teida, know with certainty, He was hinting that despite the pain and suffering of the Egyptian exile, the Jewish People would emerge even more endearing to HaShem. Summary
Let us return to answer the original questions that we posed. Avraham was punished because he displayed a lack of faith in the promise that HaShem made to him regarding inheriting the Land. Nonetheless, HaShem responded by instructing Avraham to take the animals so He could make a pact with Avraham. This pact reflected the great love that HaShem had for Avraham and for his descendants, the Jewish People. HaShem was demonstrating to Avraham that despite all the trials and tribulations that the Jewish People would undergo in exile, they would know that HaShem always loves them. HaShem gave the Jewish People the Torah so that no matter where they are in the course of history, they can always look into the Torah to be reminded that HaShem loves His Chosen People unconditionally.
The Shabbos connection
The Torah refers to Shabbos as Daas as it is said (Shemos 31:13) viatah dabeir el bnei Yisroel leimor ach es Shabsosai tishmoru ki os hi beini uveineichem ledorseichem ladaas ki ani mikadishchem, now you speak to the Children of Israel, saying: ‘However, you must observe my Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am HaShem, Who makes you holy.’ The Sfas Emes (Ki Sisa 5631) explains that the essential meaning of the word Shabbos is that one attaches himself to the root of life as the six days of the week find their source of blessing in Shabbos. Furthermore, the actions of the Jewish People draw their sustenance from HaShem, and it is through Shabbos that this is made known. It is noteworthy that all opinions agree that the Jewish People received the Torah on Shabbos, as Shabbos is a time of Daas. Furthermore, on Shabbos we commemorate the redemption from Egypt, as Shabbos is a time of Daas, and on Shabbos we reflect on the original Daas that HaShem bestowed upon us.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Yom Zeh LiYisroel
Some opinions attribute the authorship of this Zemer to the Arizal.
טוּבְךָ מוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ, תְּנָה לַנֶּעֱצֶבֶת, בְּשַׁבָּת יוֹשֶׁבֶת, בְּזֶמֶר וּשְׁבָחָה, שַׁבָּת מְנוּחָה, Your goodness, our Savior, grant the saddened one, who spends the Shabbos in song and praise, Shabbos of contentment. Despite all the trials and tribulations that the Jewish People undergo in the exile, what keeps us going and uplifted is singing and praising HaShem. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 92b) states that Nevuchadnezzar was on the verge of shaming Dovid HaMelech with his ability to praise HaShem when an angel came and smacked Nevuchadnezzar on the mouth, causing his to desist from praising HaShem. The Kotzker Rebbe said that this defines the difference between Dovid HaMelech and Nevuchadnezzar. Nevuchadnezzar only praised HaShem when things were going well for him, whereas Dovid HaMelech, pursued by enemies and even by his own son, continued to praise HaShem.
August 9, 2001. A typical day in the center of Jerusalem. The hundreds of shops that line King George Street and Jaffa Road were buzzing with customers. Among them was Martin, an American businessman who had come to Israel for a few days to attend to some business. Martin gave a quick glance at his watch. He had missed breakfast at the hotel, and now that lunchtime was approaching, his stomach began to rumble. Maybe he could grab a quick bite before his next appointment. Seeing a religious-looking man, Martin stopped him and asked if he knew of a kosher restaurant in the vicinity. The man pointed to the Sbarro restaurant just a few doors away. Martin’s initial relief was replaced by disappointment as soon as he entered and saw the long line reaching from the food counter almost to the glass doors.
Reluctantly, Martin took his place in line, checking his watch nervously every so often and wondering if he would be on time for his appointment. An older man standing in front of Martin noticed his impatience, and turning to him with a smile, said, “You look like you’re in a hurry. It will take at least a half-hour to get to the counter. If you like, I’ll keep your place in line, and meanwhile you can go and take care of whatever it is you have to do.”
“Really, you don’t mind?” Martin clearly sounded relieved. Looking out the window of the restaurant he could see the tall building on Jaffa Road where he was expected in a few minutes. After a quick mental calculation, he realized the timing was perfect for him. He would go and settle his business quickly, and then he would be free to eat a leisurely lunch. Martin thanked the man in front of him and ran out of the restaurant. As the pedestrian traffic light was green, he crossed the street and made his way to the nearby office building, mentally ticking off all the things he still had to do that day. As he approached the building, without warning, he felt a huge shock wave and his ears rang from a deafening explosion. In the panic and confusion, Martin took cover in the nearest shop. There was a long moment of silence and then – pandemonium. The wails of countless sirens from ambulances, police and rescue units could be heard, and people from all directions began running in the direction from which Martin had come. The air was permeated with an overpowering scorched odor, and thick black smoke spread overhead.
Frightened and confused, Martin ran together with all the others. At first he did not understand what was going on, especially since everyone spoke in rapid-fire Hebrew. But after a minute or two, he caught one word that seemed to repeat itself over and over again: Sbarro. The awareness hit Martin like a flash of lightning. That was the name of the restaurant he had just left. He would still have been standing there when the explosion occurred if not for the man who had stood in front of him and saved his place in line. In place of the modern, glass-fronted restaurant, there was only fire, smoke, twisted steel, rubble – and terror victims.
By nature unemotional and self-controlled, Martin broke down and cried, overcome by the tragedy that had just struck and the miracle of his rescue. His cell phone began ringing, but Martin did not even hear it. Everything that had seemed so important just a few minutes ago – his business, his meetings, all that he had to do were now as nothing… He soon became aware of the extent of the tragedy: Nineteen killed — five from one family — and seven of them were young children and babies. There were 109 people injured, 12 seriously. Martin felt his heart contract as he envisioned the crowded restaurant before the explosion. Martin wondered what had happened to the man who had been standing in front of him… It suddenly occurred to Martin that he did not know the man’s name, and he only vaguely remembered what he looked like. How would he ever find out what had happened to him under those circumstances? In his characteristically efficient manner, Martin asked the people who were standing near him for the names of the hospitals where the wounded had been taken, and jotted them down in his appointment book. He then hailed a cab and began his search. The scenes that met him at the various emergency rooms were difficult to watch. Victims and their families filled the rooms, and it was hard to make sense of anything.
Making his way from one emergency room bed to another, Martin was shaken to the core. He almost gave up, but was driven by the desire to see the person in whose merit he was standing on his feet and was not one of those hospitalized. Although it was not always possible to get a good look at a victim’s face, he was sure that he had not yet found the person he was looking for.
At the third hospital he visited, Martin suddenly found him. The man’s head was bandaged and his eyes were closed, but Martin had no doubt that it was he. This was the one who, with his considerate gesture, had saved Martin from certain injury and possible death.
Martin managed to find out that the man’s name was Yaakov; he had been seriously wounded and had been taken to the intensive care unit. He had many injuries caused by the nails that had been implanted in the bomb and he was in great pain. He was conscious but couldn’t talk.
Martin was thankful that the man who had saved him was alive. Where there is life, he thought, there is always hope. He could not bear the thought of returning to New York without meeting his benefactor and thanking him in person. After hours of waiting, and feeling emotionally fatigued from the day’s experiences, Martin decided to return to his hotel and try again the following day.
Early the next morning, he was gratified to hear that Yaakov’s condition had stabilized. An hour later, he was allowed into the room to see him. Yaakov lay on his back, attached to tubes and machines, with his eyes open. At first he could not remember anything prior to the explosion, but after some prompting from Martin, he said that he did have a vague recollection of saving a place in line for an American businessman. It hadn’t occurred to him that in doing so he had saved his life.
Martin could barely speak. He held Yaakov’s hand and said, “Please, Yaakov, ask me for anything you want. I don’t know how to repay you. I won’t have any peace until I’ve shown you my appreciation…”
Yaakov spoke with difficulty, and his voice almost inaudible. “I lack for nothing, thank G-d. All I really need is a full recovery, and that depends on the One Above. Return to your family in peace and may we only hear good news from each other.”
Yaakov rested for a moment and then continued, “You know, I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Anyone else would have done the same. Give your appreciation to G-d, not to me.”
The monitor indicated that Yaakov was exerting himself too much, and the nurse asked Martin to leave the room. Martin stood up, took out one of his calling cards and placed it on Yaakov’s night table. As he left the room he called out, “I left you my address and phone number. Please don’t hesitate to call me if you ever need anything. I give you my word that for as long as we both live, I will do anything I can for you.”
Yaakov’s son, who had been sitting next to his father, took the card and put it in his pocket. Yaakov closed his eyes and fell asleep. The conversation had left him totally exhausted. Martin said a final goodbye and left the hospital. He, too, felt drained.
The next day, Martin was on a plane headed back to New York… Martin’s family received him with great relief and joy. They made a “thanksgiving” meal, and Martin retold the story of his miraculous rescue. Not a day went by without him mentioning Yaakov in his prayers, and he only wished that he had asked for his phone number so that he could check up on his progress. Five weeks later, Martin received a phone call from Israel. It was Yaakov’s son. Martin inquired excitedly about Yaakov’s health. “We are hoping for the best,” Yaakov’s son said. “But he needs a complicated operation. The doctors recommend that the operation take place in a certain American hospital that specializes in this kind of surgery. They say that it could also be done in Israel, but the chances are better in the United States.
“At first we didn’t even consider the option of taking my father to America. We don’t know a soul there and it seemed to be an impossibility. But then I remembered your card and what you said, and I decided to ask your opinion.”
Martin could barely restrain himself. “What’s the question?” he exclaimed. “Please don’t waste any time. Order plane tickets for your father and whoever will be accompanying him. You will be my guests. I’ll make all the arrangements for everything. Just fax me all the details and the medical documents, and I will call the hospital here and get in touch with the right doctors. Leave it to me. Just give me your number and call me as soon as you have your tickets. I will be waiting for you at the airport.”
From that moment on, Martin was a man with a mission. He put aside or postponed everything and dedicated himself to bringing Yaakov to the United States for surgery. He consulted various medical advisors and made appointments with a surgeon, paying all the costs himself. Since the operation would be performed outside of New York, he arranged accommodation for Yaakov’s family close to the hospital. For the first time ever, Martin took time off from his work schedule so that he would be available to help Yaakov and his family. It was the least he could do. A week later Martin sat with Yaakov’s family in the waiting room of the prestigious medical center, while Yaakov underwent the complicated surgery that would hopefully repair the damage his system had suffered during the bombing. As he tearfully prayed for Yaakov, nothing was further from his mind than his business and its now empty office, located on the 80th floor of the Twin Towers in Manhattan.
The time was 8:30 in the morning and the date was September 11, 2001. Martin soon realized that once again Yaakov had been sent from on High to save his life.
This incredible story was told to the author by Rabbi Avraham Dov Auerbach, who heard it from a relative of the people in the story. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. (www.Torah.org)
Shabbos in Halacha
לישה – Kneading
- Practical Applications
- Baby Cereal (Thick Mixture)
One can only prepare cereal as a thick mixture in case of necessity, i.e. for a baby who does not eat loosely mixed cereal. When one does so, one must reverse the order of adding ingredients to the bowl and one must stir in a crisscross fashion or with the bare hand. One is prohibited from mixing with a knife or the handle of a utensil.
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Lech Lecho 5776
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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New Stories Lech Lecho 5776
Henny Machlis: A Truly Great Jewish Woman
How did an ordinary Jew from Brooklyn become one of the greatest lights of our times?
by Sara Yoheved Rigler
What qualified Henny Machlis, who passed away this past Friday at the age of 58, as one of the world’s greatest Jewish women?
Jerusalemites would say it was her cooking for and serving up to 300 guests every Shabbos in her cramped Jerusalem apartment. The guests – almost 150 for the Shabbat night meal and over 100 for the Shabbat day meal – ranged from curious tourists and university students to lonely widows and singles to drunks and mentally ill people who considered the Machlis family’s love and warmth more delectable than even their ample food. Henny cooked 51 weeks a year (except only for the week of Pesach) from her tiny kitchen. Starting as newly-weds 35 years ago, the Machlises’ open Shabbos table expanded gradually over the years until the overflow of guests had to be seated in the courtyard and outside the front door. Henny’s great dream was to enclose the courtyard so guests could sit there even in the winter. Alas, she never lived to see her dream’s fulfillment.
The Machlises’ chesed was not restricted to Shabbat. Homeless people slept on their couches, some for weeks at a time, and those whose mental instability might have endangered the Machlises’ fourteen children were accommodated in the family van. When Rabbi Mordechai Machlis would leave for work as a teacher in the mornings, he would know how many van guests he had by the number of shoes in the windshield.
For those who gauge greatness by the level of selflessness a person attains, Henny also scored off the charts. At her funeral her oldest son Moshe recalled how, after he got married and moved away to start Kollel (full-time Torah learning), his mother encouraged him: “If you ever aren’t making it financially, tell me and I’ll sell my jewelry.”
“Ima,” Moshe called out in a tearful voice, “you forgot that you didn’t have any jewelry. They had all been stolen by the guests over the years. And your diamond ring – you loaned it to someone twenty years ago, and never got it back.”
Being treated for cancer in New York’s Sloan-Kettering, Henny was sometimes visited by the unfortunates who – even those decades older than she – considered Henny their mother. When one homeless woman came to visit, Henny gave her her bed. A relative discovered Henny, wrapped in a hospital blanket, wandering in the hospital corridor looking for a place to lie down.
Henny’s son Moshe was pushed aside at the crowded funeral by one of the Machlises’s mentally ill “regular guests,” who proclaimed, “I have to get closer. She’s my mother.”
For those who equate spiritual greatness with God-consciousness, with the ability to see God’s hand always and everywhere, Henny had indeed achieved those spiritual heights. At the funeral, a tearful Rabbi Machlis related just one story: He invited a destitute man whom he always saw at the Kotel (Western Wall) to come home with him to eat. That day Henny served her homemade whole-wheat pizza. The man loved it. He came back to their house every day asking for a slice of whole-wheat pizza. Finally, Henny suggested that she could teach him how to make whole-wheat pizza himself. Painstakingly and with infinite patience, Henny taught him how. One night several days later, at 3 AM, there was a knock on the door. “Not on the front door,” Rabbi Machlis related. “Our front door is always unlocked. Someone was knocking on our bedroom door.”
The loud knocking woke them up. Alarmed at what must be an emergency, Rabbi Machlis went to the door and asked, “Who’s there?” When the man identified himself, Rabbi Machlis asked, “What’s wrong?”
The man replied, “I forgot how to make whole-wheat pizza. I need your wife to explain it to me again.”
Rabbi Machlis was exasperated. “At 3 o’clock in the morning, you need to remember how to make whole-wheat pizza?”
But Henny calmed him down. “It’s a test,” she assured him. “It’s from Hashem.”
Then Henny reiterated to the man, step by step, how to make whole-wheat pizza.
Henny emanated radiant joy all the time.
For me personally, the sign of Henny Machlis’s greatness was the radiant joy she emanated all the time. Whenever I ran into her, her wide smile and the joyful light she radiated conveyed that seeing me was the best thing that had happened to her all day. And although I knew that she greeted everyone the same way, I nonetheless was charged by this encounter with a holiness and saintliness that lit up the world – or that tiny piece of the world where Henny Machlis stood.
The last time I saw Henny was several months ago, when she was briefly back in Jerusalem between surgeries and treatments at Sloan-Kettering. She had already been battling metastasized cancer for a couple agonizing years. I decided to drop in at her house, and braced myself to see the battle-weary and fear-worn look that characterized other cancer patients I had known. On the path to the Machlis house, there was Henny with one of her daughters, on her way to go to pray at the grave of the tzaddik Rav Usher. When she saw me, she gave me that same radiant smile and jubilant greeting that had always been her trademark – unmitigated by the cancer, the surgeries, the chemo, the long separations from her family, and the unexpected – and unwanted – turn her life had taken. Her joyful smile conveyed not just her stoic acceptance, but her happy acquiescence with the way God was running His world.
A mutual friend told me after Henny’s death, “When I was with her, I felt embraced by God.”
The question – indeed the challenge – of Henny’s life is: How did an ordinary Jew born to a regular middleclass family in Brooklyn in 1957 become so great?
Henny kept on going and giving and loving and inspiring.
Like the rest of us, she went to college. (She graduated Stern College with a B.S. in education.) Like most of us in our twenties, she had an ideal. Hers was to share the beauty and joy of Shabbos with the whole world. Like most of us, “reality” intruded in the actualization of the ideal. For the Machlises, the tremendous scale of their success cost them over $2500 every Shabbat, a financial load that defied Rabbi Machlis’s modest salary as a teacher supplemented by donations from well-wishers. But unlike most of us, their adamantine faith in God and love for the Jewish people kept them from compromising on their ideal. They mortgaged their apartment to the hilt, took out personal and bank loans – and kept on going.
As Henny once told me: “We are living in the midst of a spiritual holocaust. Most Jews today have no idea of the beauty and depth of Judaism. How can we not do everything in our power, including going into debt, to reach out to our fellow Jews?”
The only difference between Henny Machlis and the rest of us is the voice that asserts, “I’ve done enough. I don’t have to do more.” Henny never harkened to that voice. She kept on going and giving and loving and inspiring – until last Friday, when she was called to her Heavenly reward.
Now it’s up to the rest of us.
Readers who have personal stories about experiences with Henny Machlis, ztz”l, please send them to email@example.com
Lessons from Henny Machlis
She embodied so many life-changing lessons that it would take a lifetime of aspiring to reach.
by Techiya Levine
I just heard the terrible news that Rebbetzin Henny Machlis passed away at the age of 58.
I am flooded with love and gratitude for this incredible woman who profoundly inspired me so many years ago when I spent a year in Jerusalem deepening my Jewish commitment and learning in a women’s yeshiva. Each Friday morning I would get on the bus and head to their home to help them prepare for Shabbos and hosting 100 guests for each meal.
There is nothing like the Machlis’ Shabbat table. Each week, a flood of guests would arrive, some were invited, some asked to come, some were “regulars” and did not need to be asked or to ask. Students at yeshivas, seminaries and college, as well as some of their visiting parents who had heard about this incredible experience from their children and wanted to experience it themselves. Some were homeless. More than one was a recovering addict and was receiving almost all their meals from the Machlis kitchen, and occasionally even sleeping in the family’s car. Many were tourists, Jewish and non-Jewish, who heard that they could just show up and have one of the most incredible experiences of their life.
I have no idea how there was enough food for all those guests that seem to magically come from this tiny kitchen.
The Machlises did not know how many were coming. It could be 50, or 80, or 120. Each guest was welcomed with warmth and a huge smile from Rebbetzin Henny Machlis. Tables would shift, other tables and chairs would be brought in, and we would scurry to add more place settings. There was never a moment of hesitation or hints of concern that there would not be enough food. The older children and I would meet Rebbetzin Machlis in the kitchen and we would quickly pull more things out of the fridge that seemed to be just as magical as the wardrobe from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” fame. How there was enough food for the throngs of people never will make sense to me.
Once the food was served, Rabbi Machlis would again welcome everyone warmly. Then he would ask us to go around the table and share a piece of wisdom. “It can be an idea from Torah or something else; we all have wisdom to share.” He meant this. While we went around the table, the Machlises would listen to each guest as if they were a scholar or a renowned poet. Each person was treated with warmth and curiosity. They expressed interest in and concern for everyone there.
More than an abundance of food, there was an abundance of joy, love, respect and wisdom. The amount of light that emanates from that small home is blinding.
Henny Machlis embodied so many life-changing lessons that it would take a lifetime of aspiring to reach. With tears streaming down my face, here are just a few that come to mind.
- It is possible to live in a near constant state of joy: It’s a direct result of being a giver.
- It is possible to only see the good in others.
- Everyone is precious. I was not alone in feeling like I was her favorite guest! She truly loved all of us and made it clear that each person should be beloved and welcomed, even those who make others uncomfortable.
- Never stop learning and growing. Even a woman who has 14 kids and is expecting more than 100 for dinner can find time to learn Torah and often be found with a book in her hands.
- You can let your family know they come first even while teaching them to be incredible givers. Each child was involved in the family’s abundant giving but Henny always made sure that they each were taken care of. Preparing the Rabbi’s plate before the food was put on the table or grabbing some cookies to be sure the kids would get. Through their unceasing kindness to people who were struggling and in need, like the recovering addicts who were mentally unstable and had nowhere to live, they showed their kids how far one could stretch themselves to give. By having them sleep in their car instead of inside their home, they taught that there are boundaries and that the safety of their children was paramount. They had close to 100 guests almost every Shabbos but only after they had a small private family meal and they made it known that they would not be hosting for the Passover Seder. They had it alone with their children in order to focus entirely on them, hear all of what they had learned at school, and fulfill the mitzvah of teaching one’s children about the Exodus. (Rebbetzin Machlis made arrangements for anyone who needed a Seder to go to various friends and neighbors!)
- Show respect and love to your spouse. No matter how many guests were there or how much had to be done, Rebbetzin Machlis always stopped and sat to listen to her husband share words of Torah.
- Everyone has wisdom, everyone can give. A four-year-old can bake a cake. (Their 4-year-old daughter would single handedly make one of the best chocolate cakes I ever tasted.)
- There is always room and enough food for one (or 20) more. Limits stretch when they need to.
- Welcome everyone into your home. Every type of person is welcomed to the Machlis home. Religious, non-religious, even anti-religious, Jewish, non-Jewish – Rebbetzin Machlis was not afraid that the variety of guests would have a negative influence on her children. She understood that their home was “THE place to be.” Others flocked there in order to be inspired. People admired and sat in awe of this special couple. Even a skeptical guest would be won over by the second course! The children saw how their parents were admired, beloved and respected by people of every culture, background and political affiliation and saw firsthand the power Torah has on people’s lives.
- Each child is a world. The Machlis family was my first exposure to a large religious family. It was impossible not to be struck by how unique and altogether amazing each child was! It is easy to lump people together but the Machlis kids taught me that, if anything, having many siblings meant being even more of an individual! Rebbetzin Machlis was incredibly affectionate and truly adored all of her kids. She once told me that each child should have moments of feeling like the “only child;” that a parent should carve out time to make certain children felt that they were loved and understood individually.
There are no words to express my gratitude to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Machlis and their incredible family. Henny will be mourned by the entire Jewish people. May the family be comforted among the Mourners of Zion. And may we all aspire to emulate her ways.