01 Apr REMEMBERING REBBETZIN MIRIAM LIBBY WEISS – PART 8
My rebbetzin was born on an Erev Shabbos, Friday, June 28th, 1963 on the 6th of Tammuz 5723 Amazingly, her two sister Hindie and Briendy, and her Mother , Devorah, were also born on an erev Shabbos. I think that this phenomena was very fitting for this family of chesed. Friday is the one day of the week when we primarily do not do for the day itself, but we spend time preparing for antother day, namely the Shabbos. So too, the very essence of my Rebbetzin was that her very existence was to do for others not for herself. I remember when we got married, our first challenge was moving to Staten Island. I was giving a very popular daf in Rav Pollack’s shul which was generating a lot of excitement and wanted to continue it. For Miriam Libby, it was a hubge life ahnge to leave her parents her friends and the familiar hustle and bustle of the LES to come to the relatively subdued suburb that SI was 3 1.2 decades ago.
But, in what was to become her trademark behavior, she put aside her feelings so that I should further Torah. Shortly after we got married, I was approached by our family friend, Feivy Berman, with the idea that maybe I could say my Daf Yomi on WNYM, 1330 AM radio. He took me to meet Dov Shurin, who was then on the radio, and they told me that 1 a.m., is available throughout the week for a Daf Yomi shiur. For two years, I purchased the radio time at the cost of $200/week, which ML and I paid for personally. Never once did she question spending such money which was way more than our rent, which at the time was 450/month. Furthermore, she accompanied me every night for 2 years to be at the radio station from 1 to 2 a.m. I remember that we would arrive back home around 230 in the morning/ She did this even while she was pregnant with our first sone Nechemia and she would answer the phones even while she was nauseous and had shortness of breath.
While we were engaged, the Rav at the Agudah of SI at the time was HaRav Spitzer. He had 9 children at the time and getting them to school to Brooklyn from SI was difficult. So, he left the shul and the Agudah was searching for a Rav. Being that there were many agudah members at my daf, they asked me to adutition for the position and with siyata d’shamaya, the graciously accepted me. I turned to my kallah and asked her if she was willing to become a Rebetzin. She was 20 years old at the time and the concept of being a Rebbetzin was not that familiar to her. I told her that she would not have much privacy, she’ll live in a fishbowl for the rest of her life. Being a wonderful people person this didn’t’ scare her at all and she readily agreed. through that momentous decision, SI would be blessed for the next 3 . decades with this wondrous woman who brightened the lives of hundreds of families, who was the first call for scores of people who needed a shoulder to cry on, or a person to ask for advice, or to share their dream or good news with. I remember when Rav Moshe Feinstien, told me that I should wear a Kapata, and we went to purchase my first one. She was in the beginning of her 9th month and she was proudly hold ing the box in her lap when we skidded in the snow and that very kapatah box shielded her from hurting herself.
When I was dating, I had a real baby-face and my father, AH, suggested that I grow a beard I asked Rav Moshe what I should do and he said, you’ll get married sonn and then youll see what your wife wants. When I became a rav, my wife said it’s more rabbinical to have a long beard so I grew a beard. When my father took ill with pancreatic cancer, lo aleinu, I wanted to take upon myself in his merit a new shiur. Since I was already giving a daf yomin in my shul at 8 p.m., I started a daf yomi at 10 p.m. in the agudah of 14th avenue in Boro park. Through 4 complete cycles of the daf and into the 5th on, my rebbetzin stood by me, as I said 2 dafim each night, taking care of homework and bedtime while I was out of the house. Never ever did she complain why I couldn’t be home like other husbands were. If there was several feet of snow, she would make calls to frind someone with a Hummer to take me to the daf. I remember how she would prepare beautifl siyumim in the house when we finished a Masechta. Of equal importance to me was the admiration she showed me for my Torah accomplishments. Her beaming smile was an enormousreward. With the help of Hahsem I celebrated with her hundreds of such siyumim! She was a true erev shabbos personality,living for others and not for herself. May it be the will of Hashem that we embrace selflessness in our lives and in that merit may Hashem bless us 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