Letter to Jacob Samuel
on the 7th Yahrtzeit of his great grandmother,
Rayzl Bracha Bat Lipa z"l, "Baube Rose"
Beloved mother and mother-in-law of Esther and Jonathan Pollard
11 Tammuz 5772
July 1, 2012 B"H
Dearest Jacob Samuel,
Welcome to the world!
Let's begin with a little background.
As you now know from your own experience, the day that a soul enters the world is its "birthday."
But the day that a soul leaves the world is not its "deathday".
It is its "Yom HaShana" or "Yahrtzeit".
Both of these expressions (the first is Hebrew, and the second is Yiddish) mean that it is a very special and important day for the soul and for its loved ones!
As this special day draws near - the Yahrtzeit of your great grandmother Baube Rose - the power of her soul and its ability to exert its influence in this world, is growing stronger and stronger. This power will reach its peak on the 11th of Tammuz.
On that day, Baube Rose's soul will be given permission to travel the world and to be close to the loved-ones she left behind.
On her special day, her soul will be deeply affected by the words, actions and deeds of her loved ones. That is why we say special prayers for her, give tzedaka, visit her grave and do other meaningful things for her on that day.
Also on her special day, Heaven grants Baube Rose tremendous power to intercede before Hashem with prayers for you, for me, for all of the family and for all of Am Yisrael!
As her special day approaches, her presence is keenly felt. Baube Rose is in our thoughts and prayers. We feel her shadow upon us. She is always in mind, but even more so at this special time.
For example, this urgent inner voice that keeps prompting me to "write something, to write something, to please write something for Jacob Samuel!" - that is Baube Rose talking to us!
This inner voice urging me to write something for you, Jacob Samuel, Baube Rose's first great grandson, doesn't care a whit about my other work that goes unfinished, or how tired I am, or what responsibilities may go unfulfilled to discharge this task.
"Just please write something for Jacob Samuel! A gift to him on my Yarhtzeit! Write for him just as you did for his sister, Lexie Rose, when she was born! It's his turn! Please write something for Jacob Samuel!"
It's hard to ignore that kind of request - one that comes from a world beyond our senses and our understanding.
Your great grandmother Baube Rose left this world 7 years ago, on the 11th of Tammuz. You may have even met her in the world of souls. But when you left the Heavenly storehouse of souls to come down here and be part of the Zeitz family on earth, all memory of your life before your birth was conveniently cleared away, out of mind.
Your father, Yehoshua ben Devorah (Sean) was Baube Rose's first grandchild. She just adored him, and in her eyes, he could do no wrong.
As a child, your father was a sensitive soul, very intense, very profound. He was inquisitive and a deep thinker, even from a very early age. He was also very strong willed! Baube Rose was so enchanted with your father that she was certain that he was the most beautiful, most perfect baby in the world! (She was right, actually.)
Baube Rose loved to babysit with your Dad. She didn't mind all the usual things that parents seem to mind, like noise or changing diapers or the balagan of toys all over the place. She thought that everything her first grandson did was brilliant!
When your father would cry or fuss and refuse to go to sleep, Baube Rose had endless patience to hold him and soothe him and rock him in her arms until he drifted off to sleep. Sometimes she would put him in his carriage and walk up and down the hall with him, back and forth, back and forth, for hours. She didn't mind at all!
In fact, she always said how lucky and blessed she felt that she was allowed to take care of such a wonderful child, her grandson! She loved him so much that there are no words to describe such a love. It is no wonder that as he grew, your father always had a very special and unusually close relationship with Baube Rose. The two of them shared a love so fierce that time and distance will never alter it.
Baube Rose then proceeded to fall in love with each of her grandchildren as they entered the world one by one. Uncle Matti, Auntie Randee, and great-cousins Sarah and Jessica, Tamara and Hillary were her most precious treasures. Her relationship with each one was unique and special. The kind of bond that she shared with all of her grandchildren transcends time and space.
From where she is in Heaven now, Baube Rose still watches over your father. She also watches over his beloved wife, your mother Melanie, and your dear sister, her namesake, Lexie Rose. Of course, she watches over you too. And all of us.
How does she watch over everyone?
Baube Rose goes regularly (as often as it is permitted) to pray before the Heavenly Throne of Glory. She prays that HaShem should watch over her beloved family, and over the Land and People of Israel. Of course, she prays often and very hard for your great Uncle Jonathan to be released from prison and returned home to the Land. His release will bring relief to all of the Jewish People. Baube Rose also had (and still has) a unique and special relationship with great Uncle Jonathan. More about that another time.
In the world of souls, Baube Rose prays and prays and prays that you and your sister will grow up to be erlicher yidden (fine Jews) and that your parents (Sean and Melanie) and grandparents (Marvin and Debbie) and all of Am Yisrael will have true Jewish "naches" from you. She never stops praying for you. She often sheds tears in Heaven to give her prayers more power because the Gates of Tears in Heaven are never closed.
Baube Rose would like to share some things with you.
Baube Rose was a great believer in therapeutic metaphor. Don't know what that is? Think "Dr. Seusss". You're too young for "Dr. Seuss"? Sorry, that's true. At less than 8 months old, you really are too young for "Dr Seuss"!
Let me put it to you a different way. Baube Rose was always a great believer in teaching through stories. So let me share a few of the stories she told your father and your grandfather and your aunt and uncle and all of us when we were children so you can learn from her stories as well.
Baube Rose liked to tell us a story about a mother who had five children. Perhaps she was hinting at herself and her five childrenI don't know.
Now, it seems that the 5 children were always asking their mother, "Mom, which one of us do you like best?"
"Mom, am I your favorite?" they would ask, again and again.
Sometimes when they were a little jealous of each other, they would even challenge their mother, "I think you love him more than me! How come?! Is he your favorite?"
Well, one day it came to a showdown and the children demanded that their mother tell them the truth, once and for all, "Which one of us do you love best?"
"I love all of you equally!" their mother insisted.
"No you don't!" the children chorused. "Tell us, which one of us is your favorite!"
"I have no favorites!" their mother insisted. "Each one of you is special and important to me! I love you all!"
"Then how come you don't treat us all the same, if you love us all the same?!" the youngest child demanded to know.
The mother just laughed and said, "Show me your hand!"
So the child stretched out his hand.
"Now show me your fingers," said his mother, and the child spread his five fingers out in front of her.
"Now tell me," said his mother, "Which of these fingers do you not need? Which one can we take away?"
"None! You can't take any of them away! I need them all!" the child protested.
"Well then," replied his mother, "which one of these fingers is your favorite?"
The child looked confused. "I don't have a favorite one."
His mother continued, "If you cut one of your fingers by accident, which one would you prefer to cut?"
"I don't want any of my fingers cut!" wailed the child.
His older brothers and sisters were watching and listening raptly!
"Ok," Said his mother, "now tell me which finger is the one you like the least?"
"None! I like them all!" the child shot back.
"Then how come you don't treat them all the same?" asked his mother.
"Because they are all different," said the child.
"But which one is your favorite?" his mother pressed.
"They are ALL my favorite!" insisted the young fellow.
At that, his mother smiled broadly, "And so are you, my dear children! You are all my favorite!"
"Each one of you is different, so I do not treat you all the same. Each according to his own need. Each according to his own pleasure!
"Which one of you do I not need? Chas v'chalilah! I need each and every one of you!
"Which one do I love more? None! I love each and every one of you!
"Every one of you is my favorite!"
Then the mother hugged her children, one after the other, big bone-crushing hugs and then she trotted them off to the local Dairy Treats Store (with mehadrin hechsher) to buy them ice cream. And they all lived happily ever after!
Another teaching story that your great grandmother Baube Rose liked to tell was a story about $50 dollar shoes. In those days, when Baube Rose told the story, $50 dollars for shoes was a lot of money - much, much more than it is today. Your great Uncle Michael reminded me of this story. This is how it goes:
A man buys a good pair of fine quality leather shoes for $100.00. He wears them for a year and enjoys them while they are new. At the end of the year, the shoes are still in good condition, so he sells them for $50 to a second man. The second man pays only $50 for the shoes because they are used.
The first man takes the $50 which he received for selling the shoes. He adds $50 and buys another new pair of shoes for $100 which he will wear and then sell again a year from now for $50.
"Which man," asked Baube Rose, "would you rather be? Both men wore the same pair of shoes. Each of them paid $50 for the same pair of shoes. Which one do you want to be? The man who bought the new shoes and paid $50 or the one who bought the old shoes and paid $50? "
Of course, we all want to be the man who bought the new shoes for $50!
The $50 shoe story, Jacob Samuel, is not really about shoes. It is about good values and about clear thinking. Part of the lesson is to teach us to always buy quality, not price. To think creatively. To behave innovatively. And, last but not least, to manage money responsibly.
This story also reminds me of some of the most powerful lessons your great grandmother, Baube Rose, taught all of her children.
She taught us commitment. She taught us the value of hard work. She taught us to work towards the goals that we wanted to achieve. She taught us that the pride and pleasure that we would derive from our own achievements would always be greater if we worked for it.
One of the best ways that she had of teaching some of these values was through a deal that she made with each of us. She told us that anything that we wanted and were willing to work for, she would meet us halfway.
In other words, if we wanted a new bicycle, if we were willing to work hard and save up half of the price of a bicycle, she would pay the other half.
Or if we wanted a typewriter (which is something I did want) all we had to do is was find a job (babysitting, cutting grass, delivering newspapers) save up half of the money, and when we had our half, she would put in the rest.
She was absolutely non-judgmental. She didn't try to tell us what we could or couldn't have. She believed that if we felt strongly enough to work for whatever it was we wanted, she would support us by going "halfers" on it, no matter what it might be.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, Jacob Samuel, since you were born into a more affluent time in our family. But back in the old days, it was as hard or harder for Baube Rose to come up with her half of the money, as it was for any one of us to work for and save up our half. But through her devotion, her dedication, her commitment, she always came through. She always supported our goals and encouraged our achievements. It wasn't easy for her, but she taught us all the value of hard work.
She was also a built-in cheering team for each and every one of us in the family. She found some talent or skill, some quality or characteristic in each of her children which she would use to praise and encourage them. This was not so easy, Jacob Samuel, because each of her children were so very different, and so strong willed! But all she saw were their strong points and that is what she focused on with unequivocal pride and praise.
One of Baube Rose's favorite stories was about your grandfather, Marvin, when he was a little boy. When he first started grade one, he always brought his school work home to show his mother, Baube Rose. Every paper he brought home was perfect! Ten out of ten! Gold stars! Not a single mistake!
One day Baube Rose asked your grandfather if he ever makes a mistake in school. "Yes, he said, "I sometimes make mistakes."
"Then how is it," asked Baube Rose, "that I have never seen a single mistake on any of the papers you brought home?"
"Oh, "replied your grandfather, "That's easy! I only bring home the perfect papers! The rest I throw away!"
Baube Rose loved this story. Your grandfather became her example of what it means to have a positive outlook! Baube Rose always told this story to anyone who needed to adjust their thinking and adopt a positive attitude. Like the story, she always focused on what was right and threw the rest away!
Another thing about Baube Rose. She had an amazingly robust and healthy self image. Unlike so many others of her generation, she did not perceive her children as appendages of herself. She had no need to define herself through us, nor did she need us to be picture perfect to complete her self portrait.
Baube Rose was quite content to let each of us blossom and grow into our own selves. This tremendous respect for all living beings in her life was extended not only to us, her children, but even to the family dog!
Let me explain.
Did your Grand-father, Zeide Marvin ever tell you about Junior? I guess not. Not yet anyway, because you are still too young for many of these stories. Never mind, in time your grandfather will tell you the whole story. But for now, let me just say that Junior was our beloved family pet, a little black and white terrier.
When he was about 7 years old, Junior was run over by a motorcycle. His right front paw, right up to shoulder, was crushed and mangled as he was dragged across the asphalt. He nearly bled to death. He survived only after undergoing the trauma of having his paw amputated. It is a long, heart-rending story of courage and tenacity and the will to live.
After Junior's amputation, the doctor bound him up very tight with elastic bandages that compressed his chest and his whole right side. He looked very lopsided. He also couldn't walk. He was in shock after the amputation and he was very depressed. He just lay there on a blanket on the floor looking absolutely miserable.
In deed, Junior looked so awful after his operation, and he was in such pitiful shape that we all secretly wondered if we had done the right thing by putting him through the amputation and subsequent medical ordeal to save his life.
Some of our relatives came to visit. When they saw Junior they were horror-struck by how he looked. They told Baube Rose that she should euthanize him. Put him to sleep.
"Because he's so ugly! Who wants to have such an ugly dog around?!"
Over the next few days, several people (whom she loved and trusted) called Baube Rose and told her that she was "crazy" for keeping Junior. They told her that he looks, "like a freak."
Baube Rose just listened politely and never said a word. She wasn't about to argue. She loved Junior and she did not see his deformity as anything that would invalidate his existence.
On the contrary, Baube Rose just felt sad that Junior was suffering so much and she just wanted him to get better. She never dreamed of giving him up or putting him to sleep.
Unlike those who wanted her to get rid of Junior, Baube Rose did not need him to be perfect, only to be well.
Did Junior get better? And how! His wounds healed and his fur grew back thick and shiny and he looked just fine! For a 3 legged dog, that is! He even learned to walk and run on 3 legs! Junior went on to live and love and give pleasure to Baube Rose for another 5 years! When he finally died, it was of old age!
One last story for you, dear Jacob Samuel. This one is one of my favorites. It is one that had a profound impact on my life and on others as well.
This is a story about a father and 3 children. The father did not have a name. Neither did the children. Come to think of it, Baube Rose never named any of the characters in her stories.
The father and his 3 children lived in a town that also had no name.
One day, posters appeared in the town announcing that 3 different circuses were coming to town, one after the other, over the next few months.
The posters were dazzling and promised delights galore at each of the circuses. All the town was abuzz and everyone was making plans to go to the circus!
Now the father was not a wealthy man, but he did very much want his children to have the wonderful experience of attending the circus. So, in the months before the circuses came to town, he scrimped and saved and put aside some money.
Then he called his children together. He told them that he had saved enough money to take the whole family to the circus, one time only.
He asked his children to choose which circus they would like to attend. He told them to choose wisely because they would have to be satisfied with their choice and not be sad that they could not attend the other two circuses. He gave them some time to talk it over.
The next day at breakfast the father asked his children if they had decided which circus to attend. "Yes!" they chimed, "we all want to go to the first circus!"
"Are you sure?" asked the father. "Are you sure that you will not regret going to the first circus when the second circus shows up? Are you sure that you won't feel left out when the third circus arrives?"
The children answered without a second's hesitation, "We're sure! We're sure! We want to go to the first circus!"
So the father bought tickets to the first circus and the children happily counted the days until the big day finally arrived!
They had a wonderful time at the circus!
They ate popcorn and cotton candy and candied apples! They rode the ferris wheel. They saw the lion tamer snap his whip and all the lions performed like obedient pups! They were amazed by the skill and performance of the trapeze artists and they just loved the elephants parading in a circle, each one holding onto the tail of the elephant in front. There was music and laughter, balloons and clowns and fortune tellers and even a tent with magic mirrors that made them skinny or fat, tall or small; and they laughed and laughed until their sides hurt. What a wonderful, magical day! It was over too soon!
For days and weeks the children spoke of nothing else, except what a wonderful time they had had at the circus! But before they even knew it, the second circus came to town.
How they wished they could go to the second circus!
Nevertheless, they had promised their father that they would not complain and they would not mind when the second circus arrived, so they held their tongues and never said a word about it.
The morning before opening night, their father happened to be in town at the barbershop getting his hair trimmed. When he was done, the father paid his tab and then stepped outside onto the sidewalk. He barely had time to blink in the bright morning sun, when he heard someone call his name. There, across the street, someone was waving vigorously and calling his name.
It was his old friend! His high school buddy! They had been on the same soccer team together! Even double-dated before each of them married their respective wives. How glad they were to run into each other!
How are you? How are you? What are you doing all these years? I work at the bank. I have 3 children. My wife is a school teacher. What about you? --That is how the conversation went.
How surprised the father was to learn that his old high school buddy was back in town because he is the manager of the second circus!
His buddy reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of free tickets for his old friend. The father could not believe his good fortune! He thanked his old friend profusely then ran home to tell his children the good news!
And so it came to pass that they went to second circus!
What a wonderful time they had! Music, clowns, laughter, amusement park, Hebrew National hotdogs (glatt kosher) and cotton candy and absolute wonder and amazement all day and into the night!
Now the children truly felt blessed and they could not stop talking about how lucky they were to go to both circuses. It never even dawned on them to feel left out in any way when the third circus arrived in town.
The day the third circus arrived, the father was at work at the bank. There, he received a letter by registered mail. How odd, he thought, who would send me a letter by registered mail?
Just imagine how surprised he was when he recognized his own mother's handwriting on the envelope. With heart-pounding and hands shaking, he tore open the envelope, and pulled out his mother's letter.
"Dearest Son," she wrote, "I am rushing to put this letter into the mail to you in the hopes that it will arrive on time. You see, I won the enclosed tickets to the circus in a special lottery. I realized at once that since there are four tickets they were meant for you and the children. I hope that you will use them and enjoy yourselves!" signed, "Your loving mother."
The father rushed home to tell his children the good news. They could scarcely believe their good fortune!
And so it came to pass that they went to the third circus as well!
They had the time of their life!
And that is the end of the story that Baube Rose taught us. For many years afterwards, we did not hear the story, but we lived it instead.
Whenever we had some difficult choice to make and we did not know what to do first; whenever we had some difficult decision to make, when we had to choose between an immediate opportunity and one that we hoped might occur in the future, Baube Rose would encourage us with these few words. "Go to the first circus!"
That is all she would say but we knew exactly what she meant. "Seize the opportunity! Go forward and trust in G-d!"
And that dear Jacob Samuel is the message Baube Rose wanted you to have as you now start your journey through life. The world awaits you with all of its choices and opportunities and endless options. Be bold! Be strong! Be a good Jew! And of course, always go to the first circus!
With much love and endless blessing from Baube Rose on her 7th Yahrzeit, as you approach your first birthday. Mazal tov! To 120!
May G-d bless!
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