Remembering Rav Sholom Brodt

Remembering Rav Sholom Brodt

I merited to have Rav Sholom zt”l and his Rebbetzin, Judy (may she be bless with happiness and good health until 120!) as my neighbors in Nachlaot for almost 2 decades. All week long, their home was bubbling with activity–more like a community center or shul than a private family home. Filled to capacity with a colorful array of Shabbat guests, students from Rav Sholom’s Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo, as well as others drawn in from around the world by the holiness, warmth, and remarkable beauty of the Brodt home.

This video, of the Brodts getting ready for Shabbat (which I posted exactly 10 years ago this week, August 22, 2008) gives you a taste of that glow…

A year ago tomorrow, on the 10th of Elul, after a short illness, Rav Sholom suddenly passed away. When I received the text message telling me he had died, I just stood there staring at my phone, reading the message over and over in disbelief. Rav Sholom, passed away? It must be referring to a different Rav Sholom! Even though he was already in his 70s, Rav Sholom was so young! So full of life, doing and teaching and hosting and living and learning–non-stop!

Rav Sholom’s death left a gaping hole in the lives and hearts of hundreds of men and women around the world who saw Rav Sholom as their rebbe.

In honor of his 1st yahrzeit, Barak Hullman released today his new book A Shtikel Sholom: A Student, His Mentor, and their Unconventional Conversations.

Here is a short excerpt from A Shtikel Sholom.

Sholom told a story about a woman who was one of the founding parents of a Jewish school in America. She helped found the school so her children could get a Jewish education since there were no other religious schools anywhere nearby. But after a couple of years the principal quit and the school fell apart.

This woman decided that for the sake of her own children’s education she would take over the school and get it back into shape. She put her heart and soul into running the school, without getting paid a penny for her work. And she brought it back to being a thriving school with even more students enrolled than before.

The next year the school hired a new principal, thanking this woman for all she’d done.

But instead of feeling relieved to have this huge responsibility removed from her shoulders, the mother was livid. And as the months passed, she could not get over her anger.

So she came to Sholom for advice, telling him that she would have happily taken the position as principal but no one even offered her the job.

Sholom suggested, “Imagine your children one day facing a similar problem in the future. But because of what you’ve been through you will be able to advise them and help them get through it. If you knew that’s why Hashem put you through all this, would it help?”

I asked Sholom what made him think of this advice.

And he told me a story about a man who had come to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. His son had died and he was inconsolable, unable to function. But after being in the Rebbe’s room, the bereaved father came out smiling, a completely changed man.

The Rebbe’s secretary, noticing the drastic change in the father, asked the father what the Rebbe had said to him.

“The Rebbe told me to imagine my son was still alive, but on the other side of the world. I could not visit him or receive letters back from him, but I could send him letters and gifts from where I live. If I knew 100% for sure that my son would receive all of my letters and gifts, would that be a comfort for me?”

“When I told the Rebbe ‘Yes,’ he told me that’s exactly the situation I’m in. ‘Your son can hear you when you pray for his soul and his soul will benefit from all of the mitzvot you do for him in this world. And eventually when your souls will be united in the World to Come, you will see that I was right.’”

The greatest comfort for people who are suffering, Rav Sholom learned from the Rebbe, comes from enabling them to perceive beyond what they see with their eyes and even feel in their own grieving hearts.

To see their reality, even for a moment, the big picture, through God’s eyes.

4 comments

  1. I remember that video, cant believe its 10 years ago. I remember being inspired by the love and care that goes into this Shabbos preparation and the life and joy radiating from these people. This is what getting ready for Shabbos could (should?) look like!

    May his neshama have an aliyah.

  2. Such holy and special people! I remember when I was single and had recently made Aliyah, sitting at their shabbos table and feeling so much love and Holiness! May Rav Shaloms neshama have an Aliyah!

    • One time I was going through a really stressful period in my life and Rebbetzin brodt gave me the most amazing massage I ever had- it was like she was infusing love, warmth, happiness into my body!!!!

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