In loving memory of a loving husband, father, brother, and friend: the majestic Dr. Abraham Chames OBM.
By Getzy Markowitz
This is not a notice of death, but rather the noting of a remarkable life. This is about a man who was larger than life.
Death is considered most unnatural in the Jewish tradition, and Dr. Abe Chames illustrated how to live life naturally. He was unusually happy with his lot, and for yours. Never did an opportunity to uplift another person pass without Abe utilizing it, raising him to a new appreciation of himself. One wanted to be around him, for in his presence the great had a model, the lonesome a friend, and the forsaken someone who believed in them.
He was a doctor who really knew how to make people feel good.
His trademark humble grin was the expression of a broad number of things. It was his appreciation of you, of life, and a constant display of love for He who grants it. Now, he has returned to the Maker who could exclusively claim him. He has returned to the world of truth, from where he clearly came.
Though he was beyond my age, in a moment he became my peer, and invited me to be his. He was a personality who belonged to a different age altogether.
Abraham Chames shares the same date of passing as Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch: the 9th day of Kislev. Before his soul ascended to heaven, he assembled his followers in order to reveal heavenly secrets to them. Multitudes of students filled the Rebbe’s chamber, but as the Chassidic master was about to make known matters that had been hidden from the average man, a listener’s hat fell on the Rebbe’s bed. Interpreting the interruption as a sign that he should not continue, Rabbi Dov Ber held back the revelation which some have suggested may have been the timing of the end of days.
The 9th of Kislev is obviously a day reserved for the righteous. Abe mastered being an upright man. An exaggeration about his gentleness and kindness would still not reflect due proportions. He was simply not simple, his modestly camouflaging his great integrity. It is a divine secret why G-d brought a cessation to the life of His sensational servant. It is a mystery as to why the Judge of Truth would suddenly take back a champion of His truth.
Seven parts make up each Torah portion. On Sunday, as I was driven to say farewell to my legendary friend, I studied the first section corresponding to the day, and which attests to the man. Jacob dispatches “Malachim,” a noun that could translate as “angels” or “messengers.” The student of scripture needs clarification when studying the text. Did our patriarch send celestial beings or human beings?
How appropriate that as eulogies were being delivered for the late Dr. Chames, the Living Torah too was speaking about him: Abe Chames looked like the rest of us, but reflected something above us all. He was a Mentch, and a Malach. An angel disguised as a man. Maimonodies describes angels as lacking jealousy or rivalry. Abraham Chames had the same qualities that should be envied. His is a legacy that rivals the great.
To my readers who have never met Dr. Chames: know that the Torah salutes him by stating, “Love your fellow as yourself.” Be certain that you have studied about him in the verse, “Walk modestly before the L-rd your G-d.” And be steadfast in preserving these encounters, as it is written, “And the living shall take to heart.”