Following the sudden passing of Rabbi Dovid Steigman OBM, his grandson – Rabbi Dovi Henig, Shliach in Chengdu, China – penned a letter to his community remembering him and a visit he made to their community. He also shared a message of comfort from the Chumash which exemplified his grandfather.
by Rabbi Dovi Henig – Chengdu, China
It is with great sorrow and deep sadness that we mourn the sudden passing of our dear grandfather, Rabbi Dovid Steigman, of blessed memory.
I believe that most of you know him and still remember him from his visit to Chengdu, China. My grandfather was a very special person, filled with love and joy, constantly occupied in Torah and Avodas Hashem. As much as I might write here, I can’t adequately describe our tremendous pain and sense of grief, his incredible work, his unique qualities, and his cheerful smile.
The truth is that in these painful and difficult moments, I simply can’t write today as I do every week. My mind has been deeply troubled over our loss. However, when I opened up the Chumash, my eyes immediately came upon the first verses of Parshas Vayahkel, which literally exemplified our beloved grandfather.
At the beginning of the parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu assembled the Jewish People and transmitted the Divine command “Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have holiness, a day of complete rest to G-d.” The question is asked: Why does it say “work may be done”, as if it’s done by itself, instead of “you shall not do”, i.e., the person does the work?
The Alter Rebbe offers a precise interpretation of the verse in Tehillim (128:2), “If you eat the toil of your hands, you are praiseworthy, and it is good for you.” In other words, only “your hands” have to toil in making a living, whereas your head should remain free for Torah, and then “you are praiseworthy, and it is good for you!”
This is the explanation of the command: “Six days work ‘may be done’ – the work must be done as something secondary. The head should be in Torah and Avodas Hashem, while the hands are busy working, and then we merit that the seventh day will be holy, a day of complete rest to G-d!
My dear grandfather was the greatest expert I have known in this generation on the matter of kashrus. He was a senior coordinator with the OK kashrus supervision company for years. For him, the issue of kashrus was not a job, but a shlichus!
When he visited us in Chengdu, he said, “There are many factories in the region that I would like to visit and see if they are really observing proper kashrus standards.”
“Zeide,” we replied, “you came to us in Chengdu to be with the family. Why are you looking for work here?” He smiled and explained: “This is not work, G-d forbid; this is a life’s shlichus. Every time I go to a factory and make certain that it’s kosher, I feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction that Jews can eat more kosher food products.”
Where can you find today the manager of a company who goes personally to check supervision standards in the warehouse or some other location, as would a simple employee? Physically, he worked very hard in kashrus matters, determined to prevent Jews from eating things forbidden by Torah law. However, his head was totally immersed in his service to the Creator.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.