Tonight: Siyum Sefer Torah in Bochurs Memory

Tonight, the Brashevitsky’s will hold a ceremony marking a part of the completion of a new Sefer Torah. This Torah was written the memory of their dear brother Shlomo Sholom Barshevitsky OBM, who passed away 18 years ago. Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitsky relates a story about how we normally rush to do a mitzvah, but in this case it was “Better Late then Early.”


by Avrohom Brashevitzky

The old adage says “better late than never”. This is true and consistent with the teachings of Chassidus, namely “Ess iz Nittoh Kein Farfallen” (It’s never too late – one can always find a way to correct the past). When one makes a true diligent effort – even in the “eleventh hour” – he will surely succeed! On the other hand, as Jews, we are encouraged to always do our best to perform a Mitzvah or accomplish a good endeavor ASAP (Z’rizin Makdimim L’Mitzvos). The Zchus we all ride on as descendants of Avraham Avinu is precisely that. It’s his merit of the haste with which he performed Hashem’s will that stands by us throughout all generations.

The following true story is a novel variation of these two facts. It proves that in certain instances “better late than earlier”!

About 18 years ago my dear brother Shlomo Sholom A”H was tragically taken from us at a young age. At the time it was very comforting and encouraging to receive support from all around the world. The students, friends and classmates who shared their wonderful stories, did wonders in helping us get through that difficult period. The stories they shared of his great personality and amazing accomplishments were a beacon of light directing us into the future. All the lives he touched in such a short span of time, was an amazing testament to his special persona. We all promised that he will remain alive in our hearts; that we will keep him alive through emulating his good deeds.

Then life kicked in. As we know, Hashem created “forgetfulness”. For better or for worse, man forgets things. It’s a blessing for us when G-d forbid we experience a calamity; forgetting the pain allows us to move on – as they say “life goes on!”. Forgetting where you left the car keys however, can actually incur pain and frustration. Needless to say, between all of us (his friends, siblings and students) getting married, having children, paying bills and living life – “life went on”. Personally I can’t tell you that I thought of my brother every day. Certainly not with the same sense of pain, or feelings of pride, like I did in the beginning. Somehow it became something which was lodged deep in annals of our memory banks. Or so it seemed.

About eight months ago several of us initiated a campaign to internalize Sholom’s memory through writing a Sefer Torah which will be used in the very place which was his last home and where he left an everlasting impression. The Yeshivas Tz’irei Hashluchim in Tzfas which diligently goes every Yartzeit to visit his Kever will be home to this living memorial of Sholom. We began the campaign on the auspicious day of Gimmel Tammuz with the intent to complete it on his 18th Yartzeit in the holy city of Tzfas – in close proximity to where he is buried.

This whole journey was nothing less than AMAZING! After so many years, with everyone having moved on in life and having their own families and issues to deal with – I’m truly amazed by the support and involvement of his friends and students. Looking back now, I truly appreciate the fact that we didn’t get to do anything in his memory at the time following his passing. Then we would have certainly had the same level of consideration and care as the wounds were still open, the matter was still a hot one. But now after EIGHTEEN YEARS, with so much that happened and is happening in everyone’s life – it is truly amazing to experience how much Sholom still means to everyone. Every single one of his friends and students responded in the most marvelous way; participating and getting others to do so.

This truly speaks for Sholom and who he was. I’m actually thankful now that we hadn’t done anything sooner. This experience has galvanized and confirmed what has been related to us during those difficult days 18 years ago!

As the Siyum will be held in Tzfas on his Yartzeit Adar 10, all are invited to a pre-Siyum celebration this Thursday Rosh Chodesh Adar 8:00pm at The Nemes Hall 309 New York Avenue. The final Yeriah of the Torah was flown in from Israel for this occasion. All family and friends involved in this project will have the opportunity to fill in a letter in the final few lines (leaving the very last words for the actual Siyum).

I take this opportunity to thank my brothers and Sholom’s friends and students for the amazing support and diligence in making this all happen. A special thank you to Rabbi Chaim Kaplan Head Shliach of Tzfas who has become like an older brother to Sholom, making sure year after year that his memory is not forgotten; for helping us throughout this campaign. Acharon Acharon Chaviv: two exceptional individuals with a special connection to Sholom. Rabbi Yossie Rappaport who was and remains a good friend of Sholom – has been there from the moment of tragedy through this great moment of joy – full of dedication and life like only Yossie knows how to do. Rabbi Menachem Bialo one of the students of the Yeshivah at the time of Sholom’s passing – for lighting the fire under us to get this project off the ground!

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