Still obviously stunned…the hespedim were all straight from the heart.. I think the powerful lasting image that will linger in people’s minds is his body wrapped in the Tallis in front of the Bimah as if he’s giving his final d’rosha. As if to say “this is the endgame that I’ve been telling you all about. This is why I pounded diet Mountain Dew and pushed myself and anyone else who would listen to never stop learning and doing chessed and doing the ratson Hashem beyond the normal physical limits…”….He spoke often of this day, and I’m sure he hoped to accomplish much more, but he was more prepared for this than any of us….I know his larger than life persona will be felt for generations as only the personalities of the greatest among us can be…and if his actions in life are any indication, he is undoubtedly making his presence felt in the olam ha’emes with the welfare of the kehilla he devoted the last twenty years to foremost on his agenda….
On a personal note, he had every reason to have issues with me over the years…In the early days we worked closely together. He would show up at my house with a shul list asking me if I knew the reason why each member on the list wasn’t at night Seder…We did have one disagreement which we discussed on several occasions…I thought he should put on more of a show for a the crowd, smile more, learn people’s grandmothers’ names from America, and tell stories of his days as a Dayan instead of giving “shev shmaysa” shiur etc. He tried to explain to me the obvious fact that he wasn’t that kind of Rabbi. His sincerity was his essence, and he couldn’t stray from that if he tried…over time I essentially stopped dovening in his shul and he was not happy about it…yet even after that, when I decided to try to give a weekly daf yomi review shiur, he moved mountains to support me. I purposely made the shiur at times that were physically impossible for him to come because I knew it would be a waste of his time so I really didn’t want him to go out of his way to be there but that backfired because he somehow outsmarted me and rearranged his schedule and took extra buses to attend every time and critiqued it and gave me feedback until he felt that I was on my feet with it…now…when the new cycle starts, I hope to finally bli neder do a full cycle starting in baltimore…and hopefully give that shiur leilui nishmaso because he single handedly supported me and taught me that I could do it. So now baltimore will BEH have a daf yomi review shiur leilui nishmas Chaim zev ben Avraham Aharon halevi zt”l. And that is just one very small example of the giant impact he had on so many people. In this way, his impact on all of us has just begun…may he be a meilitz Yosher for all of us and may we be zoche to see yeshuous and simchas….yehi zichro baruch