Rav Ariel was known as a “hero.” He was a known ‘baal chesed,’ a dedicated talmid of the Lubovitcher Rebbe who dedicated his life to his family and the rest of the Jewish People. Each Friday, with a beaming smile, he would put tefillin on for unaffiliated Jews. The participants loved him, as he was warm, and never judgemental.
Knowing this it becomes clear why, when Rav Tzadik’s sons were unable to locate him in Meron the night of the disaster, they had assumed he had gone to volunteer to help. It was only as the crowd began to clear, and their father continued to not pick up his phone, that their hearts sank. For hours they searched in vain. On Friday afternoon Rav Ariel’s brother arrived at the Abu Kabir forensic institute, and was crushed to see his beloved brother’s body.
Before his passing, however, Rav Tzadik succeeded in committing one last heroic act: Saving the life of his 13-year-old son. For reasons the boys did not understand, he had told his son to stay where he was, and that he would return to get him soon. And so, Levi Yitzchok Tzadik was miraculously saved, and the baal chesed managed to do one last tremendous act of giving: Giving his beloved wife her son, before he was snatched by the hands of death.
Mrs. Tzadik was visibly devastated as they lowered the body of her husband into the ground Saturday night. She now has 5 children to raise on her own, the youngest of whom is only 6 years old. In an interview at the shiva house, 19-year-old Mendy spoke eloquently of the father he so clearly respected:
“If Abba would have any message for us now, I know it would be this: To strengthen ourselves in ruchniyus, in who we are as Jews and in Ahavas Yisrael – even a small thing.”
Readers can fulfill Rav Tzadik’s final message of ahavas yisroel by donating via the Vaad HaRabbanim fund to help the Tzadik family have some security after this unthinkable loss. The road ahead of them is long, their finances are bare, and all help is deeply appreciated.