Devoted Care & Attention
This Thursday, Chof-Beis (22) Shevat, marks the 33th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson. Beloved wife of the Rebbe and spiritual mother to thousands, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka led a private but influential life within the Chabad-Lubavitch community. Noted for her graciousness, she exuded royal dignity with down-to-earth kindness.
The Avner Institute presents a letter highlighting the Rebbe’s intense devotion to his wife, including matters of health; in addition, excerpts of a diary recorded over Shavuos 5740/1980 by famed Chossid Zalman Jaffe, a businessman from Manchester, England, who had struck up an acquaintance with the Rebbe and Rebbetzin and developed a unique friendship lasting over 30 years. Every Shavuos Mr. Jaffe, together with his wife Roslyn, traveled to Crown Heights, where they were privileged to enjoy special moments with the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin. Under the Rebbe’s directive, Mr. Jaffe carefully described his experiences – yechidus, farbrengens, everyday life in Crown Heights – which were later published and widely enjoyed. Mr. Jaffe remembered the Rebbetzin in particular for her warmly elegant welcome to his family members.
“Majestic and yet Elegant”
Mr. Zalman Jaffe, a”h, remembers a profound visit that he had with Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, followed by a private audience with the Rebbe shortly after Shavuos 5740 (1980):
Once again, it was our great privilege and joy to be received by our gracious Rebbetzin at her home. Roselyn and I were accompanied by Susan, Avrohom, and their children.
The Rebbetzin looked very lovely. As Leah remarked, she was surprised to see that our Rebbetzin looked so young, and she added, “She looked majestic and yet elegant.” When I asked Leah what was her definition of “elegant,” she answered, “She holds her cup so posh!!”
I then called upon Leah to give the first turn in our afternoon concert program. Leah arose to sing “Min Hamotzer [From the Depths],” but waited until the Rebbetzin’s attendant had left the room. Such modesty! The Rebbetzin rather liked that.
Next was Levi. He extracted a Chumash from his pocket; he had brought it especially for the occasion. I sat back to listen to a d’var Torah and Levi did not let me down, except that he sang the words of Torah. His bar mitzvah was in about six months’ time, so he was layenning his sedra [practice-reading his weekly Torah portion]. He continued until sheni, which is the first official stop, when the sedra is read on the Shabbos. I was a little apprehensive; I thought he was going to layen the whole sedra!
The Rebbetzin exclaimed that it was marvelous umberuffen — and she had a good laugh. She never expected to hear the layenning at her own home, on this weekday.
Chanah sang very nicely indeed. Shmuel was too embarrassed to do anything, whilst Golda, very shyly, just sat – and looked pretty. The Rebbetzin remarked that Golda had a wonderful personality. Since Golda did not sing, nor even speak, the Rebbetzin was obviously a prophetess. Golda did, however, roll her eyes and smile a little hesitatingly.
Aaron sang the “Rebbe’s Niggun [Melody]” and gave a good exhibition of his prowess.
We had a large pile of photographs which had been taken at the Manchester Lag B’Omer parade and outing. The Rebbetzin went through them all and to our immense satisfaction she chose a few of them, to keep for herself and to show to the Rebbe. We also mentioned to the Rebbetzin that Shmuel (Lew), who had also been here for Yom Tov, had already returned home that very day. The Rebbetzin confirmed that the Rebbe had told her of this fact.
As Roselyn and I were leaving, the Rebbetzin – always the perfect hostess and lady – accompanied us to the door and bade us farewell.
“For the Benefit of Others”
When his wife was cured of an illness, the Rebbe did more than pay the physician. He thanked him for his success, which came from the true “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” and extolled the physician’s role and remittance due to level personal and professional care.
At the outset, on behalf of Mrs. Schneerson as well as on my own behalf, I wish to convey our sincere appreciation for your kind and considerate care in connection to the recent incident that occurred with Mrs. Schneerson. [Thank you] for your immediate response and home visitation at an inconvenient hour, etc., [and] all this in addition to your having provided her with your expert and skilled treatment and care.
I surely need not stress to you how important it is to the patient that the doctor expresses personal interest and attention, particularly as this constitutes a significant aspect in the patient’s healing. As you yourself correctly noted in the course of our conversation, the mind has a critical degree of influence over the entire body and one’s state of mind directly affects the healing process.
We extend our thanks in anticipation of your continued interest and assistance.
I hope and pray that G-d, “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” will bless you with success regarding all your patients, including this present one.
I had occasion to hear a thought from my father-in-law, may the memory of a tzaddik be for a blessing — a thought that has its place in our Torah, which is called the Torah of Life (as it serves as our guide and source of life) — that in order to assure the success of the medical treatment, the remuneration for the doctor’s services are to be in keeping with the medical stature of the treating physician.
In point of fact, this principle applies to all professions and services, including communal services. It need not be said that my father-in-law put this into practice and I wish to do the same.
I therefore am taking the liberty to enclose my check, although I am not sure whether this is the appropriate payment. I am sure, however, that if this sum does not suffice, you will see to it that your secretary contacts my secretary so that I will be able to rectify the matter. Together with the payment comes the traditional Jewish blessing, “Use it in good health.”
One of the primary reasons for the above principle is the fact that the Torah is aware that a doctor or someone with another occupation has fiscal responsibilities to his family and community, etc., responsibilities that he can adequately take care of only if his services are adequately paid for.
Therefore, if the receiver of the services does not satisfactorily reimburse the provider of the service, a thought might arise in the doctor’s mind (fleeting as it might be) that it would be acceptable for him next time to delay treating this individual in favor of an individual who pays what is expected of him.
Consequently, the Torah strives to remove even the possibility of such a thought. Thus, whatever occupation Providence had in mind for an individual to carry out for the benefit of others, this will always be done with total dedication and devotion.
Once again, my great thanks. With respect and personal regards,
P.S. After this letter was written, your official bill was received. Enclosed please find a check. However, as I emphasized, this is a formal payment while my letter and the [other] attached payment are on a personal basis, as a much deeper and more personal gesture than that of the formal relationship between doctor and patient.
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