The dreaded evening has finally arrived - the one-year anniversary of the day the house around the corner from me was struck by lightening and the Scarsdale community woke up to the news that our Rabbi, Rabbi Jacob Rubenstein and his wife, Debbie, had perished in the resulting fast-moving fire.
We shuffled through that horrible Saturday like zombies. We wept uncontrollably at the funeral next day. And somehow we've been pulling ourselves together this past year...slowly...returning to our communal activities, with a new, young vibrant Rabbi, who has done all he can to create momentum from mourning.
There have been days - like today - when I wake up in the morning, a problem nagging at my psyche - and I wonder - what would Rabbi Rubenstein have advised me to do? I remember our conversations - and I've archived his emails - each word of encouragement, gentle well-placed kicks and just plain reflecting - and I try to reapply the salve as needed. But the tube is empty. All I have is what I remember. And sometimes it just seems like it's not enough.
ME: I realize I can be very judgemental.
RABBI R: Yes, you can.
ME: It's not good.
RABBI R: No, it isn't.
ME: Why is it that I just can't seem to find the right man?
RABBI R: You're a very strong woman. The man you need is out there but he's going to need to be stronger than you. Not easy.
ME: Where should I look?
RABBI R: I don't know. But whatever you do, DON'T SETTLE! You are quality, Lady. You deserve someone like you. If you want to find someone to lay with - the men are a dime a dozen. To find the one who is your bashert--your soulmate--do NOT SETTLE for less than you deserve!
or the exchange I treasured the most:
ME: I pray each morning - how could I pass up an opportunity to connect. It's like checking in with my kids - or my parents - I need to let G-d know I'm thinking of Him - and I want Him to think of me.
RABBI R: Lady, you have done some growing! Kol HaKavod! (Good for You!) I wish everybody was able to see things that way.
His words of advice will follow me wherever I go. I will remember them like a salve. And apply them as needed.