It has been a year since the terror attacks in Mumbai, India. A year since we sat glued to our laptops for twenty-four hours straight, not believing that this story could have anything but a triumphant ending. A year since the loss of our colleagues and fellow shluchim (emissaries of the Rebbe) Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg.
In that year thousands of letters were written, detailing how Gabi and Rivkah touched lives. Over five hundred new born babies and many new Chabad centers were named in their honor.
Why are we so touched by this young couple? What about them has moved us so?
The passing of Gabi and Rivky (as she was affectionately called) opened our eyes to a humble young couple, living among us who accomplished more in their twenty odd years then many accomplish in a lifetime.
When we look at the lives of Gabi and Rivky and hear the many stories about their giving and generosity, we are touched and inspired.
From the time of Avraham Avinu (our forefather Abraham) it has been part of the make-up of our people to do for others. To live our lives thinking of ways that we can contribute. Avraham, the medrash tells us, had a tent with four openings. Why four? If a guest was coming couldn’t he just go around and find the one entrance to the tent? Four openings must have been quite a hassle in the dessert (think of all the dust, I find it challenging enough to keep one doorway neat). But no, that was not the way of Avraham. He wanted there to be four entrances, to show travelers that this is a home where all are welcomed, and welcomed with open arms. Nothing was more important to him then to host guests, and let us not forget that Avraham and Sarah, his wife, gave of themselves so generously, while undergoing many personal challenges. Nevertheless, even though there must have been times when they wanted to board up all those entrances and tell the rest of the world “sorry we’re closing up shop for a while,” they never did; they kept their eye on the ball until it became second nature to think of others before they thought of themselves.
In Parshat Vayera, when Avraham had his circumcision, his Brit, at the age of ninety nine, G-d caused the occurence of a big heat wave, to keep all the travelers and wayfarers away so that Avraham could heal. Yet he was very unhappy. The Torah tells us that he longed for guests and that is when G-d sent him three angels in the guise of people.
Gabi and Rivky had many reasons to look for ways to move out of India, but that was not who they were. Despite many personal challenges and trials, they were filled with a genuine desire to create an oasis for Jews in Mumbai and did so selflessly day after day.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe of Blessed memory, Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson, would always say “v’chai yiten el libo,” the living shall take to heart. Selfless giving doesn’t just happen. There is a popular campaign out there to perform “random acts of kindness” and that is all very nice and fine, but why should it be random? Acts of chesed (kindness) should be an essential part of who we are. There are so many ways we can give daily, hourly to our own families, let alone friends and strangers.
From a welcoming smile to a more involved helping hand, kindness, generosity, thinking of others, really making it a part of our lives, and teaching it to our children will surely add much light to the darkness.
May we merit to only have light and no darkness!