By: Meir Geisinsky
It has been two weeks since I learned of my dear friends Levi’s passing, and it still hasn’t sunk in, and I don’t know that it ever will. I knew I wanted to write to this blog for I understand that it brings comfort to the entire Deitsch family. But I couldn’t get myself to make it real though I attended the levaya and frequented the shiva. Before I continue writing I implore all of you that find yourself often checking this blog for new material on Levi, because of your closeness to Levi, to please contribute as well, just find the time and the strength to do it – just do it for Levi for I know for a fact that it is comforting to them.
One of my reasons/excuses for delaying writing is I simply didn’t know which direction I should go with this letter. So, I’m probably –certainly going to go all over the place with it, but will hopefully go full circle at the end.
I grew up the next door neighbor of Levi. Though I was best friends with Levi’s older brother I’m only a year and some older than Levi – so, much fun and time was had with him as well. I mean how couldn’t I? Anyone that seemingly walked on Crown St. became Levi’s friend. I thought I knew Levi and I thought I knew Levi through and through as they say, there were nights we sat on my porch until it was light outside, we talked about anything and everything, I really thought I knew Levi, but I cannot tell you how amazed, stunned, impressed, humbled I am with Levi’s handling and “accepting” of Hashem’s way – with regards to his what many think is an unacceptable illness.
When I first learned of the rumors that there may be something up/down with Levi, I called him more frequently just in case I can either infer anything or be there for him. I certainly didn’t ask him directly. When I heard for a “fact” that something not so good had been found in Levi’s chest, I painfully sat down to write an email to Levi – the kind of email that takes 30 minutes to write 3 lines. Of course I had no idea how to react or what to write, but I knew as a friend I could not just let it be and go on with my day, that’s what I’m supposed to do as a friend, something that we all know that Levi was a master at. Like 20 seconds after hitting the “send” button, I get a call from Levi: C’mon Meir, cut the trash, don’t talk to me like that. I can’t tell you how embarrassed and uncomfortable I was, I was sitting at the computer devastated about the news I just heard and Levi calls me laughing like “knock it off Meir” It’s just a Hashem thrown curve ball at him, but in the same mood like he was when he came to my backyard to play basketball. At that point I jumped on Levi’s back with optimism, hope and almost assurance that all would be well. It goes without saying how his dear wife Miriam was equally as optimistic and upbeat, though she remained as devoted and concerned to Levi’s every move. Every time I would visit Levi or speak to him, not for a moment did I feel like I was talking to a different Levi Deitsch than I used to sit on my porch until 5 in the morning with, I kept telling myself things must be under control – a person can’t be that accepting. Then for me to read after his passing about all the times he was told by doctors that he has months to live!!!!! Wow, and a painful wow is all I can say!
It is at this point that I would like to praise and show admiration for Levi’s dear parents Reb Zalman Yuda A’H and Tzirel (May she only know from strength, simchas and Nachas) I would often be asked by Chabad members: how is it that the Deitsch family next door to you, all of them are on track all of them Chassidim, all class leaders, all of them destined to go on Shlichus, you have been in the house what can you tell us? To be honest I was never able to put my finger on it, though Reb Zalman and Tzirel were certainly role models and completely given over to each child and each Mitzvah. I once heard a saying: to be born a mentch is an accident but to die as one is an accomplishment. To see Levi’s acceptance of hashems way to the bitter end, though painful, heartbreaking and shocking to me is still a reflection of the great upbringing that Levi experienced, though he certainly didn’t go without a fight or an all out war more like it.
I recently spoke to Levi’s dear Aishes Chayil Miriam, and I agree completely with her sentiment, in addition to of course missing Levi, she misses Levi saying, it’ll be good, it’ll be good. She said, she somehow has the feeling that if Levi can send her a message now he would say, it’ll be good it’ll be good. I’m not sure how to interpret his passing, but everything else that came Levi’s way – he didn’t view it as a problem, more a like a challenge or a bump in the road as he would say often.
I just went back through my many letters and I found a letter I received from Levi in 1993 (I’m from the post it stamp letter generation – before email) How fitting, the return address on the envelope said: Ha Ha 518 Crown St…
Does that sum Levi or what? Was Levi not all about “Ha Ha” He loved to laugh, he loved to make other laugh, he was one ball of laughter, he knew it, his family knew it, his class knew it, his community knew it, everyone who came in contact with him knew it and enjoyed it. While certainly he had a serious side to him- when an atmosphere needed a laugh, he broke out of any mood he may have been in to deliver the laugh. I mean not only was Levi fun, but he had an ability to lead- inspire- and make one believe in himself. Like the time I was pretty much circumstantially cornered into a position that I would have to sing Mi Adir under a chupah or they would have to ask a waiter or photographer to do it – I immediately called Levi and said: Levi, do you have magical powers? Can you teach me the song until I think my singing won’t ruin the marriage? Levi was extremely patient (he really had to be) and encouraging. I guess he also wanted a good laugh :)
It is now our turn to take all the lessons that we learned from Levi, the moments we enjoyed with Levi and do as he would undoubtedly wants us to do and let another Jew another person benefit from it. Levi oh Levi I thank you for the laughs, I thank you for the memories, I thank you for the hospitality that has been mentioned by so many others on this blog, and last but not least, I thank you for the inspiration! I can write all night until it turns light outside, but I’ll leave room on this blog for others to write. Will love you forever! Moshiach Now.