"My grandson made a Passover seder in Kobe!" "150 people!" "In Kobe Japan!" "My grandson!" I was on a trip back to Brooklyn several summers ago, and had met up with one of the elders of the Crown Heights community. A butcher by trade. Polish born. He had stopped me in the middle of 770; after a hurried hello started gushing about his grandson's Pesach, some three months before.

I didn't get the excitement. I understand a grandson's nachas. I find it amazing there were 150 Jews in Kobe and am impressed by near teenagers who spend their time off from yeshiva finding them. But... Chabad has been doing that for decades. This man's son is one of South Africa's most popular rabbis. I smiled as convincingly as I could, a smile that I hoped said very nice.

He grabbed me by the lapel of my jacket. "You don't understand! I was there. During the war!" said the Shangchaier. The Shangchaier in Lubavitch refers to the yeshiva in Poland to whom a Japanese diplomat named Sugihara had given visas. They had escaped Hitler by stealing train rides and running to the east. They had spent time in Kobe before a deportation to Shanghai.

In Reb Shimon's living room wall are dozens of family pictures. Formal wedding and bar mitzvah portraits of his kids and grandkids. Looking at the pictures you can see the subtle changes in Hassidic fashion over the decades in America. There is one incongruous black-and-white of a young man and woman standing outside a rundown building. They both have on bands with the Jewish star. "It's my sister on her wedding day," he had told me years before, "In the Warsaw Ghetto. This picture is all I have of my family."

I remembered this, but he was pulling on my lapel again.

"Fifty years ago I was in Kobe and I had nothing, nobody." "Now my grandson is spending Passover in Kobe!" "You see," he settled into a conversation. "Moses asked the G‑d 'Show me your face.' and he was answered "I will show you my back but my face you shall not see.' The Chasam Sofer explains My-face-you-shall-not-see, if you look forward, in the present, you won't see Me. But, I-will-show-you-my-back, by looking back you will see that I was there all along. Fifty years ago I saw nothing, but now..."

Life doesn't always allow for philosophies, no matter how profound, inspiring or poignant. You have to just do it and figure it out later. Between challenge and response is a void, and filling it with faith means filling it with fulfilling the Torah.

Having lost everyone Reb Shimon came to a foreign country, married and had a family and community. He had no satisfying answers to why. He still doesn't. Except one. His grandson made a seder in Kobe. For 150 people!