The impact you have had on me, my beloved wife, Esther, our children, and myriads of others, is infinite. You have taught us how to love our children unconditionally, and to live our lives with passion, meaning, and purpose -- even when unfathomable challenges are imposed on us against our will. And by doing so, you have demonstrated to each and all that love is far mightier than bitterness, that hope is much greater than despair, and that light is undeniably stronger than darkness.Rabbi Allouche
Dear Patsonia & Zalmi,
I often wonder how you find the strength and courage to cope with the unimaginable challenge of raising a “vegetable” baby.
The day of his birth, close to three years ago, stands frozen in time. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and we were readying ourselves for the holy Shabbat.
Following nine months of a very high-risk pregnancy, you were finally ready to have your third child. Our hearts were filled with joy, excitement, and anticipation. And then… a dreadful call came from you, Zalmi, my dear brother-in-law.
You shared with us that Patsonia was rushed to the hospital with a severe case of “placenta privera.” You also mentioned that she was in the ICU, fighting for her life, after experiencing an enormous amount of blood loss.
Finally, you said that your newborn baby lacked oxygen to his brain for over an hour after his birth and his condition remains “unknown.” You asked us to pray and “shake the heavens” and you promised to update us after Shabbat.
That entire Shabbat, we prayed, with a trembling heart and watery eyes, and beseeched G-d to protect and heal you, Patsonia, and your baby. After Shabbat, you, Zalmi, reassured us that, thank G-d, Patsonia was out of danger and on her way to a full recovery. Your newborn son, on the other hand, was in a vegetative state, and the doctors were not giving you much hope for his survival.
Three years later, your son, Menachem Mendel, whom you named after your “meshaleach”/sender, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, has defied his doctors’ dire predictions. Even though his condition has remained more or less the same, and in spite of his 24/7 home-hospitalization, Menachem Mendel is still alive, and with your relentless yet tender commitment and affection, he continues to spark an astounding wave of actions of love, kindness, and goodness, within your community, and around the globe.
Today, this wave reached a crescendo. In honor of his third birthday and his first-haircut, you dedicated a Torah in his honor. I watched via zoom, with tears flowing from my eyes, how your many local fans, in your faraway city of Mar Del Plata, Argentina — where you lead the Jewish community with such devotion and conviction — danced with Menachem Mendel with the new Torah, spreading joy and light to all of your surroundings.
Oh, how I wish I had been there with you physically. Still and all, I was there with you spiritually, with my heart and soul, holding your new Torah, swaying in prayer and ecstasy, and virtually cutting a snippet of Menachem Mendel’s hair too.
A holocaust survivor once told me that “in the end, it’s not what happens to us that matters most – it’s what we choose to do with it.” You, Patsonia and Zalmi, heed the call of Moses (in Deuteronomy 30:19) every single day, as you “choose life so that you and your children may live.”
How you do it – I don’t know. But the impact you have had on me, my beloved wife, Esther, our children, and myriads of others, is infinite. You have taught us how to love our children unconditionally, and to live our lives with passion, meaning, and purpose — even when unfathomable challenges are imposed on us against our will. And by doing so, you have demonstrated to each and all that love is far mightier than bitterness, that hope is much greater than despair, and that light is undeniably stronger than darkness.
There’s a line in a song by Leonard Cohen that has inspired me in some bleak moments in my life. “Forget your perfect offering,” Cohen suggests. “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Thank you, Patsonia and Zalmi, and your children, Chana, Mussia, and Menachem Mendel — may he recover fully and speedily — for being that light.
May G-d continue to fortify you with unlimited strength and courage, and may all three of your children be fully healthy, and continue to bring you boundless joy and pride.
Finally, may your light continue to shine through and through – from Argentina to Arizona, from the chambers of your loving hearts to the avenues of our globe, and may it bring complete healing to your son, to all of G-d’s sick children, and to our broken world.
With endless love and admiration,
Your brother, Pinchas
PS – To all of my cherished readers: If Menachem Mendel’s story has touched you, please consider donating toward the dedication of the aforementioned Torah, in honor of Menachem Mendel and his recovery, by clicking here: www.charidy.com/cmp/toramdq By endowing a letter, word, or sentence for yourself, your children, your family members, or friends, it is if you have written your own Torah Scroll too. Thank you very much.