לזכר נשמת הרה"ח השליח ר' לוי יצחק בן הרה"ח ר' זלמן יודא דייטש ע"ה

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Transcript of speech by Dr Donald Infeld at the Tanya Dedication after the Shiva period. Chabad House of Tysons VA

Transcript of speech by Dr Donald Infeld at the Tanya Dedication after the Shiva period. Chabad House of Tyson’s VA
Rabbi Levi Ob”m and I were best friends. Actually, to be very
honest, over the past two years, I came to love Levi Deitsch.
He was a remarkable man, capable of fighting a devastating
illness with the tenacity of a Lion, while at his core remaining
a gentle man with a heart of gold….the most accepting person I
have ever met.
Let me give you a bit of background so that you can appreciate
how we came to embark on a very special life journey together.
I am a physician and just before Rosh Hashanah two years ago, I
learned—admittedly thru federally prohibited stray talk in the
Doctor’s Lounge—that Rabbi Levi had lung cancer. Since this was
not public information, I was concerned about meeting with him
to discuss it. Nevertheless, I did, I called and made and
appointment and met with him at his small office at the Shul.
At the meeting, not unsurprisingly given who he was, Rabbi Levi
was completely disinterested in spending any time listening to
my nervously offered and weak apology of how I was acting on a
healthcare information leak. Instead, he listened intently as I
offered my services as a medical liaison—a guide, a scout, an
advocate—in short, a Shliach to help him navigate the complex
healthcare system we have in America and ensure he received the
best medical care possible.
Little did I know at the time, but Rabbi Levi was a 5-star
general preparing for what he knew would be a protracted and
difficult war against a tough and unrelenting enemy. Yet, to
his last breath, he was absolutely certain that he would beat
this illness and the prospect of having a medically
knowledgeable and connected aide-de-camp at his side was
extremely appealing. He embraced my offer and, indeed, he
embraced me.
And off we went together, the two Shluchim, on a medical and
spiritual journey that would profoundly affect both of our
Allow me for a brief few minutes to share a small part of what I
have seen and experienced on this journey. Some of my story
will reflect the on the amazing qualities of our dear departed
Rabbi—but my purpose as well this evening is to share a few
particularly meaningful experiences that shed light on the
incredible Lubavitch culture—their way-of-life and their values.
For in my medical Shliach role, I have for the past few years,
walked among the Lubavitch as an honored guest. I have been
allowed to pierce the outsider’s veil, to gain access and
observe and participate from within—and what I have seen and
experienced has been enriching beyond words.
With Rabbi Levi, I walked the streets of Crown Heights, I slept
in his Mother’s house, I davenned at 770, I layed Tefillin at
the Ohel (the grave of the Rebbe). At his side, I attended
Kinuses and the National Jewish Retreat; I danced at the
weddings of his Sister and Miriam’s Sister—and with him I sat
Shiva in Crown Heights for his Brother Nosson.
Through this all, I have witnessed, first hand, the majesty and
beauty of Yiddishkeit
And, perhaps most importantly, I have seen and experienced what
Ahavat Yisroel—the love of Jew for fellow Jew—indeed, the pure
love of one for another—really means. I have seen, up-close and
personal, a quality and depth of love that I did not know—or
believe—existed on this planet.
You need to appreciate the hundreds if not thousands of visitors
who came to Rabbi Levi’s bedside during his many
hospitalizations. On numerous occasions his ward at NIH looked
like the streets of Crown Heights on a Spring Sunday…with
Schluchim driving and flying in from all over the country,
indeed the world, to simply spend a few hours at Rabbi Levi’s
bedside. And they sat and they comforted him with a genuine
caring that is hard to convey. Between Miriam, his brothers and
other relatives and friends, our Rabbi never spent a night
alone in a hospital, often with as many as three people taking
shifts all night at his bedside.
All over the world, Schluchim and others were praying for Rabbi
Levi. There was a recent conference call with over 500 people
saying Tehillim in Rabbi Levi’s merit. At the national Jewish
Retreat a few months ago, Danny Cohen, the Shliach of Hevron sat
down to talk with us. As you may known, Hevron is the biblical
city which contains the Caves of Machpelah the resting place of
the tombs of the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as
the Matriarchs: Sarah, Rebeccah and Leah.

And I’ll never forget that moment, as Danny looked at Levi with
radiant love and compassion and said in a Yiddish cadence:
“Levi you simply have to get better soon. You see every time we
have a minion at Machpelah we say a Refuah Schlamah for you…and
I think the Emahot and Avot are getting tired of hearing about
you.” A truly remarkable scene that played out repeatedly at
the second holiest site in Judaism.
I could go on for hours, telling you of the outpouring of love
and prayer for Rabbi Levi; yes he was special and touched many
because of his heart, his compassion and his outgoing
personality—but what was showered upon him is part and parcel of
the values inherent in the Lubavitch way of life. It is very,
very powerful stuff and it permeates the Chabad outreach
movement that brings us all here tonight. I can’t tell you how
many people, secular New York City Jews, who I met along the way
who visited Rabbi Levi during his illness because of how deeply
his Tefillin visits touched them during his Friday Mitzvot
rounds decades ago when Rabbi Levi was a young Yeshiva bocher.
I need to share with you the poignancy of the last Shabbos of
Rabbi Levi’s life—not to evoke tears but to share with you the
both the reverence for and the majesty of Shabbos that I have
witnessed. At dusk, Rabbi Levi lay in his bed on life support
in a medically induced coma. At bedside, his wife, his Mother,
two brothers, a sister and my wife and I welcomed in the Sabbath
Queen. To the rhythmic whooshes of the ventilator, Mendy
Deitsch made Kiddush and passed around wine and challah. In the
ICU waiting room, a white tablecloth was spread on the coffee
table and the Shabbos meal was eaten in shifts. The next day,
the Rabbi’s soul was returned to its maker mid-afternoon. At
darkness with a Shomer saying Tehillim in Levi’s room—Nechemia
Deitsch chanted Havdallah in the ICU at the Nursing station—and
then and only then were cell phones turned on and relatives
notified. Even a life event of this magnitude would not be seen
as justification to break the sanctity of Shabbos.
And so to all the non-Hassids in this room, I relate these
experiences so you may better appreciate the culture and values
of the Chabad Shluchim and how very blessed we are to have them
in our community. Simply put, by values and practice, they are
very special people truly doing Hashem’s work here on Earth—and
the fact that we in Tyson’s Corner have an open door to this
world of Jewish faith, spirituality and Yiddishkeit—a door that
is open in a totally accepting and non-judgmental way—is nothing
short of extraordinary. We must not take this for granted; we
must avail ourselves of Chabad@Tyson’s many offerings and we
must support it.
A propos of this, let me close by relating a wonderful
metaphorical story that Rabbi Bryski (of California) told at the
National Jewish Retreat in Reston a few months ago on Shabbos.
He said imagine that you are in an enormous Olympic-sized
stadium about to take the baton for your leg in an epic
relay race, the results of which can strongly influence the
history of our people. The stands are filled with countless
spectators from the 5000+ years of Jewish existence. You look
out over the faces and you look up and in the skyboxes you see
Abraham and Isaac and the Matriarchs; you see Moshe Rabenue and
the Ramban—and you see the Rebbe and the Bal ShemTov. And they
are all watching you to see how you will take the passing of the
baton from your ancestors and how you will run your leg. And as
Rabbi Bryski concluded, “so when you take that baton, I urge you
to run and run like you never ran before”.
And I would amend his parable as a challenge to all of us
sitting here tonight. Let us all in our mind’s eye see Rabbi
Levi—in his robust form of several years ago—as that last runner
handing us the baton—and let us pledge to take that baton here
in Tyson’s Corner “and run and run like we have never ran
Out of nothing, Rabbi Levi came here eight years ago and created
a vibrant Jewish Community, a veritable oasis of Jewish
learning, Jewish spirituality and Yiddishkeit. All of us have
been touched and transformed by him and the work of the Chabad
House here. So in his merit—and also for ourselves and for our
own Jewish spiritual journey—let us tonight take a solemn pledge
to support the Chabad at Tyson’s and see it flourish. I am
certain that next to the wellbeing of Miriam and his
children—looking down from above—nothing would be more important
and gratifying to our beloved Rabbi Levi Yitzhok ben Zalman Yuda


  1. Very well said, tears running down my eyes....

  2. ditto that..tears of love

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