The sun has set at noon. Far from the limelight, Nechama
Rivka Pincus built a splendid Torah home which cast its
influence far and wide. She was a great woman, who radiated
joie de vivre, and bitochon in the purest
sense. Her simchas hachaim was contagious, her
laughter uplifted untold scores of neighbors, friends,
students and guests. She was a throwback to a previous
generation were Toirah was the besta schoira,
and a premium was placed on chinuch.
In a firm and gently loving way she imparted true values to
all of us. Every meeting with her gave food for thought. She
was raised in the great home of HaRav Shraga Grossbard, where
all Jews were loved and accepted. Shortly after her father's
petirah she related the following story.
As a young girl she once asked her father, "Abba, what type
of Jews are we? Are we Sephardim? Ashkenazim? Chassidim?
Litvish?" On her own she could not discern the answer to her
question because everyone frequented their home, and everyone
was received with great honor and love. There were no
She built her own home on these values. She was an ehrlich
Jew. Honest, straight, true, authentic. Raised in a home
where honesty was a 24 hour a day obligation which did not
come automatically but with great sweat and tremendous
mesiras nefesh. Klal Yisroel was not an abstract group of
people. It was the focus of her family's life.
Her grandparents, HaRav and Rebbetzin Hillel Vitkind were
moser nefesh for the preservation of Torah. When the
fires of World War II were raging, her grandfather took
personal loans to cover the expenses of bringing the maximum
number of bnei Torah to Eretz Yisroel from Europe. The
yeshivaleit he saved, served as the seed for olom
HaTorah in Eretz Yisroel and elsewhere.
Once, HaRav Vitkind traveled to Jaffa to welcome newcomers to
Eretz Yisroel. Seeing that the boat was too large to dock
safely in Jaffa, Rabbi Vitkind walked into the waters to
bring the bochurim ashore. He later explained that he
felt like he was carrying sifrei Torah one by one to
Rabbi and Mrs. Vitkind lived a life of great poverty as a
result of the tremendous expenses which they incurred for
saving the bochurim. As a young girl, Rebbetzin Pincus
had noticed that her grandmother always served rice and rice
water (the water in which the rice had been cooked) for lunch
every day. At a later stage in life she understood the reason
for their sparse meals. They had incurred tremendous debts
and lived in true modesty.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shraga Grossbard followed the path trod
by the Rebbetzin's parents and lived for the klal.
Rebbetzin Pincus told me the following illuminating
story. A distraught taxi driver complained to her that
frum Jews were less than honest. He had heard hair
raising stories on the radio about corruption within chareidi
society. He asked her what she had to say about the matter.
She told him that her father (Rabbi Grossbard) had spent his
life building up a religious school network in order to
educate Israeli youth, both religious and non religious,
about their great heritage. This entailed arduous and
constant work on his part. Not one penny that passed his way
was used for personal benefit. Beyond that, he had invested
his own money in the schools in need, and incurred many
personal debts on their behalf. In fact he routinely handled
millions of dollars on behalf of the Chinuch Atzmai. The
cabby was speechless. The story was undeniably authentic.
Nechama Rivka loved the klal, person by person. One
morning, I met her in the local grocery store. Her perennial
smile was missing. She looked distracted. She explained that
she had just heard that Israeli soldiers had been killed in
action. The loss was personal and painful.
Her heart was open to all. In like measure she was loved and
respected by thousands. May her sudden and untimely passing
shock us into action. May we be zoche to emulate her
Tehei Zichrah Boruch