As long as I don’t get up from lying position, I can get through Tisha b’Av without feeling overly awful. So I generally spend Tisha b’Av resting and sleeping but mostly reading. And the book that moved me the most deeply this Tisha b’Av, often to tears, was the memorial booklet compiled by the family of Rabbanit Tzippy Kaplan zt”l who passed away at the age of 56 last month.
Rabbanit Tzippy, whom I wrote about shortly before her death, was a pillar of chesed in my community. In fact, she was such a central neighborhood figure that the local community center sent out a notice when she passed away, something I don’t remember ever happening over the 2 years I’ve lived here.
One anecdote in the booklet that made a deep impression on me was told by Tzippy’s daughter-in-law Brachi. Tzippy had a special sensitivity to children– a true baby whisperer. Which meant that for years, she was a highly sought-after babysitter among neighborhood mothers, and a favorite destination for her many grandchildren.
One time, daughter-in-law Brachi recalled in the booklet, she spoke angrily to her son who had been misbehaving. Tzippy told her, “Don’t worry, Brachi, children drink in values. There’s no need to say very much, just smiles and love.”
And maybe this was Tzippy’s secret, how she managed to raise children who felt so remarkably accepted, so loved — absolutely and unconditionally. While all of her children write about how much they loved their mother, it is striking that possibly the most dramatic expressions of love and admiration and longing for Tzippy following her death came from a son who is no longer observant.
This son writes, “My mother was the best person I ever met. Truly! My mother was the best person I ever met–not because she died. But because she was truly the best person I ever met, ever. Apparently, she was too good. She wasn’t only good. She had the most love, acceptance, innocence, gentleness, softness. My mother was the most important person in my life.”
How did she do it?
“There’s no need to say very much, just smiles and love.”