|April 29, 2019 ~ 24 Nissan 5779|
Leah (Lori) bat Reuven Gilbert-Kaye ז”ל
Noyah bat Eden Dahan (Age 8) Almog Yosef (Alon) ben Ruti Peretz Rabbi Yisrael ben Chana Priva Goldstein
Why R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Said Kaddish Today
Today, the 24th of Nissan, may not be of significance to you or me. However, it was marked in the calendar of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (1910-1995) as the day when he would recite kaddish for a woman he never knew. Rabbi Shlomo Kluger (1785-1869) was a prolific Torah scholar. However, it was in 1854 when his beloved granddaughter Sasha Mindel – who had grown up in his home – tragically died, when his world was turned upside down, and it is in the introduction to Vol. 2 of his book Nidrei Zerizin where he describes these events in detail. R’ Kluger had helped arrange the marriage between Sasha and her husband. But as it turned out, her husband and his family were terrible people, and just weeks after the wedding – having expressed disappointment that Sasha had not fully adopted their ways and customs – they were abusive to her to the extent that she became very sick. Initially, R’ Kluger was unaware of this abuse, but then a random stranger informed him of the situation. R’ Kluger immediately sent his son – Sasha’s father – to bring her to his house, and it was there where she remained until her tragic death.
Feeling broken and blaming himself for what took place to his beloved granddaughter, R’ Kluger dedicated the second volume of his book Nidrei Zerizin’ to Sasha’s memory. Additionally, in the same volume is the eulogy that he delivered in her memory, and it is also there where he made the following request:
“I ask and I beg whoever will learn my books to recall Sasha Mindel’s soul on her yartzeit which is the 24th of Nissan, and whoever does not feel that is below their honour should recite kaddish for her, and I would further ask that… you mention her soul for the good in your prayers and supplications. And whoever feels that these would be a below their honour should give a peruta to a poor Jew to say Kaddish on her behalf, and this is the ultimate kindness (Chessed Shel Emet) that you can do for her and for me, and your reward should be doubled in heaven”.
Clearly there were at least some who fulfilled R’ Kluger’s wishes and, more recently, this included R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. And how do I know this? Because in Halichot Shlomo (Tefilah Ch. 18 note 78), which is a book describing the halachic practices and customs of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, it is noted that he heeded the request of R’ Shlomo Kluger and, every year, recited Kaddish on the 24th of Nissan in memory of Sasha Mindel. But there is a postscript, because while the request of R’ Kluger is mentioned both in Halichot Shlomo as well as some other contemporary works, few cite the full story of what led to the death of Sasha Mindel as described in R’ Kluger’s introduction to Vol. 2 of Nidrei Zerizin. But I have chosen to publicise it here, just as R’ Kluger chose to include it there, because the death of Sasha Mindel serves as a powerful reminder that spousal abuse – in all its forms – exists in our community, and that it can be a killer.
Yet I would like to conclude – as I began – with R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, because I am quite certain that he knew the full story of Sasha Mindel, and as such his saying kaddish today, on the 24th of Nissan, serves as a powerful message that it is the duty of a religious leader to remain acutely aware of the needs all people, and that the abused will not be ignored, or forgotten.
* For a link to Vol. 2 of Nidrei Zerizin, see http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx…