Tuesday, April 12, 2005

An Eishet Chayil Diamond

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Unfortunately, earlier this evening, my husband and I had to go to a shiva house (a Jewish house of mourning) -- a friend of ours had lost his father last week, and we went to comfort the mourners and for my husband to daven.

I didn't know this friend's father nor his mother all that well. Sometimes we were together as guests at a Yom Tov or Shabbos table, but I'd only met the parents in total maybe half a dozen times in the 11 years that I know the son and daughter-in-law.

The man who passed away unfortunately had been suffering from the slowly disabilitating Parkinson's disease for the past five years or so. Little by little the symptoms showed themselves and the man started to need extra help for the little daily things we take so for granted. Help getting dressed, help bathing, help eating, help shaving, eventually help standing up and sitting down...because of the rigid stance that accompanies the disease.

This evening, however, I learned of the quality of life that this man had, thanks to his lovely wife, his true eishet chayil (woman of valor). They began to have some hired help, nurse's aides in the latter days, but all along the wife helped her husband keep to his familiar and daily routines. She announced to myself and another woman at the shiva: "I even helped him lain tefillin." The other woman asked, "You knew how to do that?" "No," was the reply. "My husband taught me...and so I did it for him all the time."

I was floored -- yes, such a familiar task to men from the time they turn thirteen years of age, a routine, although a bit difficult at first, that becomes second nature. Never did it occur to me that someone who wants to continue to lead the quality of Jewish life that he has led, who wants to follow this commandment of tefillin, but is somewhat handicapped to do so, should need the rudimentary help. For a wife to learn how to lain tefillin so her husband can continue the mitzvah is a most beautiful thing. I was deeply touched by this woman's fortitude and resolve to help her husband in such elemental ways.

She married someone with the last name Diamond, and in her earliest days of marriage after the second world war, she might have been a Diamond in the rough. But after so many years of a life together, and such a demonstrated dedication to her husband, she proved herself to be a most polished, refined diamond, complete with Clarity for what needed to be done for her husband and doing it. A true eishet chayil.

May Moishe Diamond's memory be for a blessing, and may his neshama have an aliyah. And may his dear wife continue to be strong, and healthy, and live to continue to see much naches from her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for sharing that Pearl.

Mirty said...

Very beautiful. True love shows itself in such kind tasks.

tuesdaywishes said...

Shiva visits can be so hard. I'm glad you came away from this one with so much inspiration. It will motivate me not to make so many excuses for not going (I hope) (btw, she probably said 'lay tefillin'. Lain means read)

torontopearl said...

thanks, tuesdaywishes, for the correction. (you ought to get yourself a blogging e-mail acct. through hotmail or yahoo so that i don't always have to comment online to your comments)
i posted rather late last night, and this morning while rereading the post, i saw the "lain" and thought about it for half a second, but didn't correct it. let me reassure you (and other readers of this blog), i DO know the difference between lay/lain, but just didn't do anything with that knowledge in this case.
and believe me, any shiva visit is so hard; i avoid them like the plague. but i recently read linda greenberg's first person insights about the topic in the BAYT quarterly bulletin. tuesdaywishes, if you haven't done read it, or don't have access to it, try to get a copy. it's so very interesting and allows you a good reason to perform the mitzvah of paying a shiva call.
let's hope neither you, nor i, nor our readers have to do that for a long, long time.

Carmi said...

Thank you for pointing me back to this entry, Pearl. When I read her son's Globe & Mail piece - http://tgam.ca/DRsS - I had no idea I'd be opening a window into such a remarkable life and remarkable family.

Thank you for this amazing opportunity.