The last four days have been a daze in which I have been numb and in shock from the horrible loss of a person who I viewed as almost a little brother, Nadiv Kehaty.
In the beginning of this week’s Parsha we read about the contributions to the building of the Sanctuary. The Torah uses the expression “Kol Nediv Libo” – loosely translated as “anyone with a generous heart.” In Hebrew the word Nadiv means kind or generous. Tradition teaches that parents are endowed with borderline prophecy when designating a name for their child.
When Uzzi and Rivkah Kehaty selected this name for their son Nadiv 30 years ago, it was straight up full prophecy. He literally, without exaggeration, embodied the word Nadiv.
Nadiv made every person feel important to him. When you interacted with Nadiv, the sense was that you his best friend. Nadiv was an amazing father, husband, son and brother. He loved his family with every fiber of his being and he was their anchor in difficult times.
Nadiv had many wonderful qualities, each worth mentioning. I would like to share three qualities that are his legacy from which each of us can derive some inspiration to implement into our lives.
The first is Simchas Hachaim – a life of happiness. This is much more than just what the French call joie de vivre. It is not just that he enjoyed living. He found joy and brought joy to others in every moment and experience of life. He always had his signature big smile and loved making people laugh and be happy. This was true even though he had plenty of challenges in his life on many levels.
The second, an outgrowth of the first, is greeting people “besever panim yafos” – with a happy face. No matter who it was, everyone got the Nadiv smile and a kind word or joke to brighten up the day.
The third was his stellar fulfillment of Ahavat Yisrael – loving his fellow. Nadiv didn’t view this as an obligation. Rather he really did love everyone and they loved him back. He loved holding babies, playing with children, talking to adults, hanging with seniors – anyone at any age. Whenever someone needed something Nadiv was there – from the smallest acts of kindness, like helping a mother with a stroller, to the big picture of helping people in many unheralded ways.
Nadiv also loved New Orleans. Even though he had moved away many years earlier and set up his life in Brooklyn, NY, New Orleans was still home and he considered himself a local. He thrived on hearing about the growth and development of Chabad in New Orleans. On many occasions Nadiv generously supported the activities of Chabad in New Orleans. He was a regular sponsor of the Downtown Lunch N Learn, Young Professionals events and much more. He loved reading about things that were going on and constantly gave enthusiastic encouragement.
I had the pleasure of being in touch with Nadiv on a regular basis. He would call, text, email or send a facebook message just to let me know that he was thinking about our community. He would shower us with blessings. Nadiv very much wanted to be financially successful so that he could be even more generous in his support of the causes that he loved.
When the tragedy struck earlier this week, it was hard to imagine that the love and the joy of life and the smile were all gone. When I got the call I could not, and still cannot, imagine life without Nadiv’s physical presence, his smile and love for everyone. How could this steamroll of positive energy, joy and love come to a stop? And yet for his wife Toby, their children Moshe, Yuda, Shoshana and Yacov, his parents, Uzzi and Rivka, siblings, Talor, Tzivyah, Mendel and Levi, his in-laws the Ezagui family, and for all of his friends and loved ones, it seemed that it had come to an end.
And then something amazing started. All the love that Nadiv had projected to others throughout his 30 year life was being reflected back to him and his family. Messages, photos and kind words were streaming in from all over. Nearly 4,000 people contributed to a fund to help support Nadiv’s wife and children. Every message, photo and contribution was like a beam of love that was rebounding from the love that Nadiv had given in his lifetime. While this cannot fill the gaping void left by Nadiv’s untimely passing, it injects a tiny bit of warmth into the coldest of cold feelings being experienced by his family.
If we could only take to heart the lessons of Nadiv’s life the world would be a warmer place with more love, and this would zoom us forward to the time of Moshiach, when we will be reunited with our loved ones who have passed and we will see Nadiv Dovber ben Uzzi together again with his family and 7 billion friends.
If you would like to contribute to the fund please see www.gofundme.com/kehatyfamily.
Several important initiatives are being considered to perpetuate Nadiv’s life and legacy. Details will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead.
May Hashem bring comfort to the family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin