The other day, I went over to Rabbi and Mrs. Schaalman's home to pay a visit. I've been over a couple times, and each time I've learned something precious.
During my first visit, I came with our president Jill Gardner, and we sat down with the Schaalmans, who sat together holding hands. Their affection for one another put a big smile on our faces. But even more special, Herman said of all the things he is proud of in life - his accomplishments as a rabbi, his longevity and so on - none inspire him more than the 75 years he's been married to Lotte. How romantic! Rabbi spoke with such reverence and lovingkindness. It was just such a blessed moment. Such a beautiful revelation.
During my second visit, I reminded Rabbi Schaalman of the first time we met, at OSRUI fourteen years ago. We were both there for a faculty meeting, and I knew him by reputation. As you well know, with the help of the great Rabbi Leo Baeck, Herman escaped Germany with four other young men, one of whom was Alfred Wolf, z"l--one of my dear rabbis growing up at Wilshire Blvd. Temple in Los Angeles. As we spoke, Rabbi Schaalman emphasized the importance of work-home balance. At the time, I was a new parent, a relatively new husband, and I was seeking equilibrium. We agreed that there is much to do as a rabbi, but Herman pointed out that the work will still be there the next morning. And, ultimately, a rabbi's greatness begins at home. After sharing this memory with the Rabbi, he smiled warmly, musing how impressed he was that he could offer me a pearl so wise. Moved by his humility, no less his 75 years of practice, I promised Herman I'll keep working at my own balance.
In chapter five of a body of Jewish law called Talmud Torah, we are instructed to honor and respect our teachers in the same manner we honor and respect our parents. And it's in this spirit of kavod that we turn to the Kaddish d'Rabbanan, and we ask God to grant abundant peace to our teachers, our rabbis, those who engage us in the study of Torah. And we pray that they and those close by gather grace, love and compassion, a full life, ample sustenance and salvation from God. This is my prayer for Rabbi and Mrs. Schaalman. To you both, I say kol ha-kavod (all our respect) and zei gezunt (be well) and thank you for guiding us over a lifetime. We love you.