An Appreciation of the Bostoner Rebbetzin Raichel Horowitz
One still sees the caring smile -- for she always smiled -- and one still feels the personal warmth of the Bostoner Rebbetzin, Rebbetzin Raichel Horowitz, a"h, the fond mother of the thousands of Jews, from all walks of life, who for 60 years passed through the wide-open doors of her homes in Boston and Jerusalem.
College students and scholars, family men, businessmen, saints and scoundrels, her warm heart and gentle sense of humor inspired them all. She patiently helped them see themselves and their problems in a different light: what they could become, what they could achieve, how precious and beloved they were to her . . . and to Hashem. Full of life, cheerful through the hardest of times, utterly dedicated to chesed and mitzvos, she gave all she had to others, until all was gone. No one was left the same.
Born in Stryzov, Poland, she grew up in the holy home of her saintly mother and grandparents. Her grandfather, the Stryzover Rav, was a great-grandson of the Chassidic Master Reb Naftali Ropshitzer, zt"l. She was only six when she moved to a mid-West America hostile or cruelly indifferent to all she held dear.
Despite it all she retained her faith in both Hashem and man, and from then on only lived to help others. How can we ever fully plumb the selfless tznius of her words: "Even if a little girl is lonely and all alone, if she can do a chesed for others, even when it is difficult for her, if she can overcome her yetzer and do it out of love for Hashem and a fellow Jew, such a little girl has done something great and noble."
Soon after marrying the Bostoner Rebbe, the tzaddik R. Levi Yitzchok Horowitz, in 1942, she returned from New York with the Rebbe to reestablish Bostoner Chassidus in Boston. There, their "open home" matched their open hearts.
She was the perfect eishes chayil and lifelong companion of her noble husband. Her unflagging efforts, so hard and generally unappreciated at first, helped make Boston Chassidus the very special and successful movement it is today -- in America, Israel, Europe, Australia, whenever Boston is more an ideal than a place.
Her unfathomable goodness, chesed and wisdom remain a precious legacy for all who knew her, or who were inspired by her popular and moving autobiography, a book she wrote so, "you and my grandchildren can understand the struggles we faced day after day."
Who can forget the look on her face as she lit her many Shabbos candles? As she sat reading her Tehillim, or sat in animated conversation with her many visitors and "friends." And always a smile. Even when on oxygen, her special smile.
How can we mourn her? She was both a saintly servant of Hashem and a practical, down-to-earth woman who loved life and hated sadness. She would surely drop everything in Gan Eden to rush back and comfort us. She would brush away our tears and tell us once again: "My dear, life is a bowl of cherries; it's just that some are sweet and some are sour."
Who can even begin to measure our loss? But, in truth, she is always with us, as long as Jews continue to cherish the midos and ideals she stood for. Her smile still warms our hearts.
Excerpts from Eulogy For the Bostoner Rebbetzin|
by The Bostoner Rebbe
16 Tammuz 5762 -- Wednesday June 26, 2002
"Moh enosh ki sizkirenu, uven odom ki tifkidenu." What is a person, and how can that person be remembered? At the same time, Chazal tell us that there has to be a cheshbon of "Kol ho'olom lo nivro elo bishvili," that the whole world was created only for me.
If you look at a person sometimes, you can only see the "Moh enosh ki sizkirenu." You can only see that which is the moh. What is it? Nothing. And if you look at it from another position, you see the "Kol ho'olom lo nivro elo bishvili."
We were fortunate, [all of us] in having in our midst the heilege Bostoner Rebbetzin. She would frown upon the word heilege -- she was so nothing. She felt that she was doing absolutely nothing for anyone.
And who knew her more than I did? I was fortunate to have had her at my side, "Imi bachalomi." She was there when I first started out. Bachalomi, with my dream, as she helped fulfill that dream, giving the opportunity to so many thousands of people whose lives she touched.
Her life was a tragic one, even though she never showed it. Her young life certainly was, and then the Holocaust robbed her of her family. It robbed her of her father who was killed al kiddush Hashem and took away her sister.
You should know when I first started, life was not easy for me. But without her help I would never have been able to do it. She was responsible for whatever happened in our circle. I will say the words that Rabbi Akiva said when he spoke about his Rebbetzin: "Sheli veshelochem sheloh!" The full credit is due her.
She was the true royalty of Klal Yisroel, the true royalty of a Jewish woman, of whom everyone could be proud of, and from whom everyone can take a lesson in behavior, in devoting, in caring.
The Rebbetzin [pause] has left me [pause] empty. "Libi chalal bekirbi," my heart is experiencing a void, a terrible void, of knowing that I won't be able to count on her to give me that support that I so desperately need, especially in these years.
I can only ask [pause] the Rebbetzin be mochel me for whatever I should have done and I did not do. We always take things for granted! . . . When a good deed is done say so, express your appreciation, make the other person feel better about themselves. "Moh enosh ki sizkirenu," there is a lot to that enosh to be able to be remembered by, if we don't lose touch with the reality of life.
So hopefully if we just emulate the life she lived, in all she did to help others, that will be a great zechus for her and it will be a great zechus for us. May she be a guta betta for each one of us, and . . . she should never be ashamed of us, what we do. May her memory be a blessing.
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