A memorial gathering for the kedoshim of Mumbai, India, was held this past Sunday, at Beis Menachem Mendel of Flatbush. Prominent Rabbonim of Flatbush graced the occasion with their presence. Over 400 people heard the rousing address of Rabbi Avrohom Schorr, Rav of Beis Medrash Tiferes Yaakov of Flatbush, and other inspiring speakers, including Rabbi Yochanan Morozov, Rav of BMM, and Rabbi Yosef Vigler, Rav of Meoros Center.
The Master of ceremonies was Rabbi Michoel Seligson, noted scholar and educator, who pointed to the unprecedented outpouring of Jewish unity in recent days, and how we should continue its momentum and positive influence.
Rabbi Schorr called for greater ahavas Yisroel, which must derive from, and go hand in hand with, ahavas Hashem. He noted how pieces of iron cannot be welded when rusty, but only when the rust is removed.
Likewise, Jews can become firmly united only when we remove the rust of arrogance and self-love that keeps us apart. Rabbi Schorr also decried the harmful influences of the secular media in its many forms and urged parents especially to insure that their children avoid them.
Rabbi Morozov discussed the different approach to mesiras nefesh of Rabbi Akiva, who always awaited an opportunity to give his life for Hashem, in contrast to Avrohom Avinu, who never sought mesiras nefesh but was ready for it when necessary. Similarly, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his Rebbetzin HY”D, never sought mesiras nefesh but were ready for whatever their work as shluchim would bring – even this ultimate sacrifice of dying al kidush Hashem. Like Avrohom Avinu, they practiced hospitality in the desert – in their case a spiritual one –bringing thousands closer to G-d. In their passing they brought an astounding kiddush Hashem, as hundreds of millions discovered the worldwide phenomenon of Jewish Chabad Houses that practice and teach hospitality and kindness to all.
Rabbi Vigler spoke about how, despite our unbearable pain, this tragedy cannot shake our deep faith in G-d and His Torah and how we can not understand His ways, but we carry on with perfect faith nonetheless.
Mr. Ben Adler, a businessman from Texas, who was in Mumbai just a few weeks ago, flew in to speak at this gathering. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah continue to inspire him, he said, with their incredible hospitality and kindness, both material and spiritual.
Adler related that when he called to ask where he could eat for Shabbos, Rabbi Holtzberg immediately welcomed him warmly to eat his meals with them and their other guests. Throughout Shabbos, they made him feel at home, and refused any pay. Mr. Adler’s job does not yet entitle him to vacation, but when his non-Jewish supervisor heard why he needed a day off to address this gathering, the story so inspired him that he gladly agreed.
The overflowing crowd represented every segment of Klal Yisroel, many standing throughout watching the simulcasts elsewhere in the BMM building. All were deeply moved by the profound and heartfelt words of Torah, and came away with the feeling that all of us are close family with the kedoshim of Mumbai.