His tragic death caught us by surprise. The shock, the confusion, the unknown, were, and still are, unbearable.

The loss of our loved one—the father of my husband, the Zaidy of my children, who has departed from this world far too early—whips us from all sides and angles. We are still reeling from the pain.I have but one thought of comfort . . . We will forever miss his vibrant and powerful presence.

I have but one thought of comfort, one thought only. I attempt to find solace in my sincere faith in G‑d: my belief that He and His ways are intrinsically good, and that the nature of good is to do good.

For his soul which has moved on to a higher destination, I am certain it is in the place it has to be. It is in that place, up on high, for it was not meant to remain in this corporeal world any longer. The reasoning will (meanwhile) remain concealed from us finite beings. We will simply believe that what has happened was guided by the Hand of G‑d.

For those of us who live on in this world, the passing of those dear to us is horrific; it is painful. We are suffering a tremendous loss, and we are even commanded to mourn the deceased; the message is clear that the death from our standpoint is tragic. Yet, after the mourning periods, gradually lessening in their intensity of grief, we are instructed to do what seems to be the impossible. We are expected to put one foot in front of the other and march, slowly if necessary, but steadily forward. We are obliged to forge ahead with our day-to-day activities and carry out our mission, to infuse the mundane with G‑dliness.

Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz
Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz

I clearly recall a powerful speech that Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, OBM, my esteemed father-in-law, had given in the Chabad House a short while before his passing. This anecdote resonates so well with my feelings and impressions of this tower of a man.

“Condolences were being given for a prominent fellow, upon his passing from this world, by the son of the deceased. His renowned stature was made evident, as each circle of his influence was mentioned. Stemming from the influence he had on his country, his political power, slowly being narrowed down to a more personalized effect he had on his constituents he was Clergy of, and finally to the credit he deserved of being a family member. At last, he cried out: “but to me, he is my father!” His great fame was not all the wonderful accomplishments he had done on a global scale. It was his care and devotion he had towards his family that proved his true greatness.”

To the Chabad movement, he was a man of stature and an active board member for the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchim) in New York and other programming.

To the State of Illinois, he was the regional director, who cared about all those under his wing: Chabad representatives to more than 40 institutions, organizations and the Chabad community of Chicago. To the Northbrook community, he was the spiritual leader, a mentor and a pulpit rabbi.

But to us, he was family. He was a son to his remarkable parents (they should live and be well), husband to my dear mother-in-law, father to my incredible husband and his siblings, and the grandfather of my precious children and their cousins.

When we think of “Zaidy,” we recall the times he attended the siddur parties of his grandchildren at school, their birthday parties and how he cared about each family member in a personalized way. He was the glue binding the variousHe was the glue binding the various personalities together personalities together. His hierarchy of rank was really from the inside out. Family was his priority. But he didn’t stop there; he focused on the comprehensive objective of perfecting the world.

His every lecture had a focused goal for the listeners. There was a clear directive to be implemented to transform our lives, one small but steady step at a time. He never belittled change; every step forward was commended. But it was also expected, perhaps even demanded.

Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz with his wife and children
Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz with his wife and children

It is challenging completing the finishing touches of purifying this corporeal world. But we have a mission. We are being counted upon by our loved ones. We must give the deceased the certainty that we will actively do all we can to reveal G‑dliness in this Universe. We will do what those living in a higher plane are no longer capable of doing and our mitzvot will bring comfort to their souls. The more efficiently we complete our task, the quicker we shall complete the job and reach the ultimate accomplishment of a world of Utopia: the era of Moshiach.

During the course of time following the passing of my esteemed father-in-law, Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, may his memory be a blessing, we have taken care that the children remember their Zaidy.

Sitting around the Yom Tov table, each grandchild was to share their last memory about their Zaidy.

“The last thing I remember about Zaidy . . . ” The sentence began the same way, but each child’s ending was a unique memory.

My thoughts were in a whirlwind later that evening. What an impressionable exercise that had been! Surely, it was effective for the children, to keep their Zaidy “alive” in their hearts and memories. But a paramount message struck me with mighty force.

Is my every action a positive memory, a positive effect that I’m having upon thoseIs my every action a positive memory? around me? What would be the last memory someone may possibly have of me?

What a powerful (and frightening) thought. My last correspondence with my spouse, with each child, family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors—are they positive, and ones I would “be OK with” if they were the last impression someone had of me?

In The Ethics of our Fathers, the teaching states: “Repent a day before your passing.” What a brilliant command! One can never know the end of his days. If we determine each day as one that may be our final time in this physical world, our actions would be proper, meaningful and genuinely good.

Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz
Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz