My maternal grandfather, whom we lovingly called Zeidy, didn’t speak the same language as his young grandchildren. We were English-speaking American kids, and Zeidy spoke mostly the Yiddish of his youth. Living in the world of his family and the yeshivah, he didn’t need much of the English language during the five decades he spent in the United States.

But Zeidy knew other languages as well—the language of theZeidy knew other languages well Talmud and its depths of understanding, and the language of purity and character refinement—both of which increased his proficiency in the often wordless language of love and connection to his beloved family and students.

One of my earliest memories is of going upstairs to see Zeidy. (His study was upstairs to minimize distractions; nevertheless, Zeidy always welcomed us warmly and graciously.) He was seated on his solid wooden chair, learning Torah at the large brown desk. When I came in, he looked up and smiled his gentle and genuine smile. He opened a drawer—an old-fashioned drawer that moved slowly, with no smooth gliding on a track like more modern furniture. Zeidy took out a checkbook, ripped out a deposit slip and placed it in my small hand. I scampered downstairs to the worn-out coffee table in the living room to play with my acquisition. A “real check,” how exciting! Now I could write and conduct important business just like grownups. Somehow, Zeidy always knew how to connect, how to touch the hearts of all those he came in contact with.

Recently, I started giving my young daughter deposit slips. She loves it, just like I did. She “writes a check” with a pen, and feels big and important. Watching her, I am reminded of Zeidy and feel that warm feeling in my heart that has no words, and needs no words.

As a teenager, I visited my grandparents frequently. Bubby usually answered the door and offered me something to eat at the kitchen table. On one occasion, she was not home when I came. Zeidy was sitting on the recliner, and when I entered he got up and went into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and offered me a kiwi. I cannot recall if I actually ate it or not, but what I do remember is Zeidy going to the fridge to find a piece of unconditional love for his beloved granddaughter.

Even with those who had no language barrier, sometimes silence spoke loud and clear. I frequently visited Zeidy and Bubby on Friday nights, at that peaceful time after the Shabbat Queen is ushered in. At that point, Zeidy was no longer able to go to shul for prayer, so they ate their Shabbat evening meal as soon as Zeidy finished the evening prayers at home—well before I left for my own family’s meal.

One week, before serving the soup, Bubby said in a disappointed voice: “This week we have no matzah balls because I forgot to put them into the soup before Shabbat.” When she opened the soup pot, there was a sudden exclamation of surprise. “There are matzah balls in here. How is that possible?” After a moment, she solved her dilemma. “Zeidy must have noticed my oversight and put them in!” The smile on his face and the twinkle in his eyes confirmed Bubby’s explanation, but Zeidy didn’t say a word.

Zeidy was a respected rabbi and Talmudic scholar, with many students all over the world; culinary matters were certainly not of personal significance to him. But this was not a matter of matzah balls; it was a golden opportunity to emulate His Creator by being a true giver.

Zeidy personified the sense of inner purpose and contentment that so many of us struggle to find. As he aged, this became more apparent. After suffering a heart attack in middle age, his diet and lifestyle were severely restricted. As the years went on, he became virtually homebound, andThis was not a matter of matzah balls no longer able to deliver his legendary Talmudic lectures. Yet Zeidy was never depressed or disheartened. He understood that true accomplishment and happiness are derived solely from connecting with Our Creator and fulfilling the soul’s mission on our short journey through life. If his abilities were currently limited, then obviously he had a new purpose that was in line with his current reality.

I vividly recall coming into the house once and seeing Zeidy in a weak state, sitting on the recliner reading from a Tanach without commentaries. Compared to the breadth and depth of his learning and teaching abilities, this was akin to a mathematician reviewing the multiplication tables when he could no longer concentrate on his complex multi-dimensional equations. But to Zeidy, this was just a different means of achieving the same goal; he knew that each word of the Torah is precious, pure and powerful, regardless of the degree of intellectual stimulation and the level of external gratification.

Zeidy’s picture hangs on the wall in my dining room. The rabbinic garb and black tie, together with the hat and white beard, express his position of greatness; the small smile on his serene face reveals a glimpse of the depth of his internal world.

It has been 13 years since Zeidy left our transient world for the World of Truth. Though I miss him, I still feel connected. My oldest son is named after him, and the relationship and values I learned from Zeidy live on inside me. I hope to pass them on to future generations, to keep the flame burning for all eternity.