In His Footsteps
In His Footsteps | Oro shel yoseph > Commemoration > Yossie, My Best Friend 22

Oro shel yoseph > Commemoration > Yossie, My Best Friend > In His Footsteps

In His Footsteps

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"He treated me with great respect. He gave me his undivided attention, showing me he cared; he made me feel better than anyone else."
These are not the words of a generous and loyal supporter from abroad, a child from Chernobyl or a close friend or relative. This description comes from the maintenance person at the offices of Chabad Youth Organization (= Tzeirei Agudat Chabad, Tzach), Kfar Chabad, Israel.
"Each morning he greeted me with a beautiful smile and offered me a hot or cold drink, depending on the weather."
"'You are the only one that I allow to come into this room,' he would say to me, as he complimented my work." 
"While most people barely noticed me," the maintenance person relayed in a broken voice, "Rabbi Raichik always did; there was not a morning that he did not find time for some warm words – which lit up the entire day."
Such a man was Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Halevi Raichik, z'"l.
After his passing, we heard from hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world who remembered him, eulogized him and shared their stories and tears.
The maintenance person was not the only one.  Each person felt unique and that he was Yossie's only brother, best friend, most important child, most special person. Reflected in Rabbi Raichik's eyes, everyone saw their best self.
Many a philanthropic Jew can tell how wonderfully they were treated when asked for a pledge and the children rescued from the city of Chernobyl always remember the warmth and love showered on them.  People from all walks of life can recall influential personalities, Chassidim and 'mashpi'im,' Jews who shared a good word, a smile, or lightened their day. But how many maintenance staff can spend hours talking about one of the senior members of the office, who over the years related to them personally and thanked them again and again for their important work?
This was Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Halevi Raichik, obm.

A Good Example and a Perfect Model

It is still so recent since Reb Yossie's soul departed, leaving us in shock and in pain. We are not used to speaking about him in the past tense, to adding obm to his name. The loss is too much to absorb, too much for the heart to grasp.
To pay tribute to his legacy, his indelible influence, and his chassidishkeit, to feel again the warmth of his aura, to share the burden of his loss, and to draw lessons from his heartfelt devotion, we gathered these stories and recollections. Reb Yossie would have dismissed all this attention with a wave of his hand. "Stories?  About me?…" 
We also wanted those who did not have the privilege of knowing him personally to know about him. We wanted to learn from his example, continue on his path and evoke the beautiful warm smile of Reb Yossie that accompanies us on every page of this book.
It has been taught: R. Yosee says, I was once traveling on the road, and I entered into one of the ruins of Jerusalem in order to pray. Elijah of blessed memory appeared and waited for me at the door till I finished my prayer. After I finished my prayer, he said to me: Peace be with you, my master! and I replied: Peace be with you, my master and teacher! And he said to me: My son, why did you go into this ruin? I replied: To pray. He said to me: You ought to have prayed on the road. I replied: I feared lest passers-by might interrupt me. He said to me: You ought to have said an abbreviated prayer.
 Thus I then learned from him three things: One must not go into a ruin; one may say the prayer on the road; and if one does say his prayer on the road, he recites an abbreviated prayer.  (Brachot 3: 61).

The Noda B'Yehuda asks about this Gemara: Elijah's question was about this specific ruin and it was not a clear admonition. From where did Reb Yosee learn that "one does not go into a ruin" in general? 
Reb Yosee said, "I learned from him," signifying that he did not learn from Elijah's words, but from his actions, namely, that Elijah the prophet waited for him outside. From this he understood from the Tana that one should not enter any ruin whatsoever.
This Medrash and its interpretation were cited by the well-known educator, Rabbi Naptali Roth, when he spoke about his good friend, Rabbi Raichik.  "From here," said Rabbi Roth, "we can understand the great admiration every one felt for Reb. Yossie.  It was not only his great knowledge and natural talents, but the man, his deeds.  His way of life, his modesty, his characteristics, as well as how he cared for others.  He always knew how to find the beautiful and good, even in places where others could not find it.  His friendship was not merely superficial, but deep and caring. He was a tremendous example, a real model of how a Chossid should behave."

Don't Cry, Take Action
His brother, Rabbi Sholom Raichik, the Shaliach in Maryland relates:
 "As a family we make sure to call all our siblings before the major Yomim Tovim.
Once before Yom Kippur I was speaking with Yossie and the conversation turned to the drosha I was preparing for Yizkor.
I remarked that as a Rabbi my responsibility is to get people to do more Mitzvos and make changes in their lives. So I said that I was hoping that in my drosha I would get people all emotional and teary eyed and then I could get them to do things.
Yossie surprised me by saying: 'Don't let them cry!' He continued to explain that when a person becomes emotional they are charged with energy and ready for action. Once they cry, this energy is spent leaving less impetus for change and action.
The insight that there is no reason to expend our energy in crying if we could use it for positive action has stayed with me to this day."

If only he could, Reb Yossie would direct us with his motto, which guided him his entire life: Don't cry, Take Action!

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