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REMEMBERING REBBETZIN MIRIAM LIBBY WEISS – PART 3

Last week, I related the story behind my Rebbitzin’s birth. But, there is a story that is worthy to be recorded that predates that column’s drama. When my shver’s mother, a”h, was pregnant, it was a dangerous pregnancy. The custom in those days was that, if the pregnancy was hazardous, they went to the rebbe and the rebbe bought the baby. In this way, it would be the rebbe’s child and under his umbrella of protection. So, they went to the Kapiznitzer Rebbe and the Rebbe bought the baby. My shver was actually born in their own home and everything went okay. I used to joke with my wife that she was a Rebbische Kind, since she was bought by the Rebbe.

But, as it turns out, it wasn’t a joke because, in many aspects, she was like a rebbe herself. Especially in the area of giving blessings. Up to the last days of her life, she was giving heartfelt blessings. I had told her many years ago that the Ben Ish Chai, Zt”l, Zy”a, said that a person’s mazal is stronger on their Hebrew birthday and that therefore it is a time when they could give blessings to others. This turned her birthday into a major event each year, not like by most people who receive gifts, but rather she was on the phone most of the day calling people to give them blessings. Her day went from calling people to wish them better shalom bayis or hoping that they would be blessed with children, or bentching them that they should find their basherta. After a while, people would wait eagerly by the phone to receive her good wishes. I remember that she would ask me at what time could she still give blessings and I told her that she could keep on going until the Rabbienu Tam’s zman of 72 minutes after sunset.

What she adopted as a birthday custom spilled over to the rest of our family. Now, all of us, children and grandchildren, daughters and daughters in-law, sons and sons in-law, spend our birthdays calling each other and wishing each other well.

When my Rebbetzin got sick, she felt that the Shechina was with her since I told her the pasuk says, “Hashem Yishkevenu al eres dvoi,” that Hashem’s Presence resides especially with one who is sick. So, she intensified her habit of giving brachas. I remember once, when she could barely get off of the couch, she somehow managed to get down the stairs and I took her to a kallah’s house, a girl who was getting married that night, to give her a blessing. The week before she went in to the hospital with a serious infection that would render her semi-conscious for almost a month, another bride came to the home and my Rebbetzin blessed her passionately on her wedding day.

Just a week before her pertira, our children Dovid and Devora Rosenberg were blessed with a baby girl. Since my Rebbetzin had a narrow escape from death just a few days before the baby was born, they called our grandchild Chaya, Life, to celebrate that her bubby was still alive. How we will always remember my wife in the last week of her life holding Chaya with her ebbing strength and blessing her with arichas yomim, with long life. We captured it on video and it will be something for Chaya to treasure for years to come.

A wise woman in our kehilla, Mrs. Liefer, a”h would often say “Give a bracha, get a bracha.” This is based on what Hashem told Avroham, “Va’avorcha mevorachecha – I will bless those that will bless you.” This was not only said to Avraham, but also to his descendants. So, whenever we say to someone “Shalom Aleichem, peace unto you,” “Good Shabbos,” or “Mazal tov,” and we say it meaningfully, we are recipients of blessings as well.

So indeed, like a rebbe, my Rebbetzin gave brachas all of her life. She also gave wise counsel like a Rebbische Kind, but we will talk about that in future articles. In the merit of showering others with heartfelt well wishes, may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.

Please learn, give tzedaka, and daven l’iluy nishmas of Miriam Liba bas Aharon.

Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles. Start the cycle of Mishna Yomis with Rabbi Weiss by dialing 718.906.6471. Or you can listen to his daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection Both are FREE services.

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Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss