01 May REMEMBERING REBBETZIN MIRIAM LIBBY WEISS – PART 11
Since a wedding anniversary is a celebration of one’s union, Miriam Libby and I would do something special together every year. This past Shabbos would have been our 35th anniversary, so I was flooded with memories of anniversaries gone-by. As we would not go to Broadway shows or anything else outside of the boundaries of tznius, it took some ingenuity to celebrate in a special way. We both enjoyed going to restaurants, so I would plan our outings around places of fine dining. We would go to Manhattan spending an evening at a hotel and visiting the planetarium, or taking a walk, and enjoying the changing weather in Bryant Park. I would take her to window shop at her favorite stores and she would insist on taking me to a chess club and watch proudly as I would beat a ‘regular’ at speed chess. I remember a memorable anniversary when we went to Washington DC, enjoying a bus tour of our nation’s capital in the night and, since we are both children of survivors, spending a solemn afternoon in the Holocaust Museum.
One time we went up to the Catskills where we visited the Satmar Rebbe’s grave in Monroe, went shopping in the Middletown Mall, and dined in Monsey. Another time we spent two and a half days in Rhode Island enjoying sightseeing in the mansions, and she sat proudly while I recorded for Kol Haloshon the first ever Daf Yomi in the Touro Synagogue. Once, we spent a day walking leisurely through the Bronx Zoo where she insisted that the giraffe was communicating with me and another time we based ourselves in Camden, New Jersey, enjoying the aquarium with its Shark Tunnel and other marvels. I remember spending an anniversary in a hotel near Teaneck so that we could enjoy many of the fine eateries there and the wonderful shops that could be found there and another time in a cozy Hampton Inn, tucked away in South Plainfield, New Jersey, where there was a Burlington Coat Factory and a few other of my wife’s favorite shops.
My readers might wonder what purpose I have for taking them on this particular walk down memory lane. I’ll answer this with another timely question: How is it that chometz, leaven, which the entire year is considered good (as we refer to it in our bentching, “Hazon es ha-olom kulo b’tuvo – Hashem supports the entire world with his goodness,” which refers to bread, the staple of life), yet for seven days on Pesach it becomes more poisonous than pig or lobster? For, while pig and lobster are negatively prohibited, chometz on Pesach is punishable with kares, spiritual death. The answer is that while chometz is generally wholesome and nutritious, there is a toxic angle to chometz: That is that it comes about through delay. It will only come into being if one delays 18 minutes. If Hashem would have delayed on the night of the Exodus, we would have sunk to the 50th degree of contamination and we wouldn’t have worthy to be redeemed. When the Torah tells us “Ushmartem es hamatzos – we should guard the matzos from delay,” Rashi sites the Talmudic teaching, “Al tikrei es hamatzos, ela es hamitzvos – Do not read it as [just] matzos but rather to [all] mitzvos,” that we should guard all mitzvos from delay.
So I share with you, my dear readers: Don’t delay celebrating your marriages. I can’t imagine what would be if I didn’t have such wonderful memories or if I procrastinated celebrating anniversaries. To paraphrase the Mishna in Avos, “Al tomer li’ksh-efneh, shema lo tiponeh – Don’t say when I get the chance, maybe you’ll never get the chance.” And don’t make it a surprise for that robs your mate of the delicious joy of anticipation. How we would look forward to these delicious getaways! So, plan together and squirrel away money (and credit card points) for months so that you can make your special time very memorable. In the merit of strengthening our marriages and making them even sweeter, may Hashem grant us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.