טו כסלו תשע"אBy: Anonymous
I barely knew Levi Deitsch.
But for the little I knew him I am very thankful.
Over the past years I met him on a few occasions.
He being friendly with some of my uncles and myself friendly with some of his brothers and cousins, led me to some chance encounters with him. We would exchange 'Shalom Aleichem', chat a little and go our separate ways.
Though he was several years my senior, he would always ask me how I was doing and take interest in my goings and doings. One strong image, fresh in my mind, was meeting Levi about a year ago or so, standing outside his mother's house. He inquired if I was married, I said I was married and who I was married to. Hearing that I was married and knowing my wife's family, his face lit up with a huge smile, and he proceeded to tell me at length how happy he was for me. This was at a time when he was in pain, recovering from a difficult treatment.
Levi was a person who was truly happy for other people, and people felt that genuine care. Every chance encounter with Levi would leave a lasting impression.
It was about six months ago when my life changed; I was rushed to the hospital and was informed that I had some form of cancer, and was hospitalized for close to two weeks.
During the time we were waiting for my precise diagnosis, while the fear of the unknown was very strong, Levi was already busy helping me. He had heard of my predicament and immediately contacted my relatives to ensure that everything was being taken care of accordingly, and suggesting on how I would receive the best care.
Later, Levi heard that an uncle of mine had skipped work to spend time with me at the hospital, and help me in any way he can. Levi excitedly spoke of how much he respected my uncle, whom he had known in his youth.
Though this isn't the place for me to take pride in my uncle, I nevertheless feel that it is important for me to tell this, I think Levi was trying to tell people what true dedication means and how much he respected it.
Warm 'regards' kept flowing from Levi throughout that time. Another relative of mine told me that he visited Levi and was surprised to learn that Levi was even more aware than he was about of the details of my situation; Levi was really concerned about my wellbeing.
Eventually, I was informed that I had been diagnosed with one of the milder forms of the sickness, one that was very curable. Though I would need to undergo months of intense chemotherapy treatment, the success rate was nearly one hundred percent.
Levi's cousin visited me shortly thereafter and told me how exited Levi was for me, how I had literally made his day. Truth be told, he had made mine.
I left the hospital and returned home. Not much time passed before I received a phone call from Levi. Of all the phone calls I received during that trying time and throughout my life, this call effected me most. I want to share with you some things he had told me.
He welcomed me to the club, he told me how lucky I was, how G-d willing it would shortly be over.
He explained that I would temporarily have to get used to a different lifestyle, I should continue living normally, just at a slower pace.
He gave me various practical suggestions regarding the medications I was using and how to deal with the side effects. (Unfortunately Levi knew all too well about the many types of medications that are out there.)
He told me that I should keep strong and always look ahead.
He gave me his personal number and told me that I could call him whenever I wanted. He even offered to give me his wife's number, should my wife need comfort and support.
The most important thing he told me, something I do and always think back to, was that I would be the one creating the mood around me. If I was going to be down, everyone else around me would be in bad spirits as well. If, however, I was going to be upbeat and positive, then everyone else would be upbeat and positive too.
That was Levi Deitsch.
Our phone call lasted nearly two hours. I could hear the excitement and optimism in his voice. He knew that all will be well, and he was giving me the vital tools with which to get there. Most importantly, he cared to let me know.
Later, Levi's brother-in-law told me that at the time he had been driving Levi to a treatment. They were late to the appointment, but Levi insisted on pulling over and finishing our conversation, telling him that this phone call was very important and nothing will stop him.
He was genuinely selfless.
At a later point, once I had somewhat settled down into my routine, I wanted to meet Levi personally and thank him for everything. When I heard that he had been to Shul, I was upset because I was stuck at home, due to treatment. When I was able to start going to Shul on Shabbos, I hoped each week to meet him, but I unfortunately never did.
When I heard he would be spending the last days of Sukkos at his mother's house on Crown Street, I hoped I would finally get to see him, but unfortunately, due to his condition he wasn't able to make it.
Weeks later, I heard the awful news.
I keep thinking, over and over how Levi in his terrible situation, facing a most bleak and frightening forecast took the time to look out for me and countless others, making sure that everything I needed was taken care of for me and that I was doing OK.
It is my hope that his family can find comfort in the fact that he helped me, amongst many others, in such a special way during such trying times.
The only way I can return the favor to Levi is by emulating these special traits, these exceptional characteristics that define a true Chossid. It is my hope that I will be able to repeat his message of faith and optimism to those who need it.
I am sure that just as Levi cared for me while he was with us in this world, he continues to look out for me as he surely does for his wife, children and family and countless others.
תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים