Adar 29th 5772
The Seventh Yoryzeit of our father Tzvi (Savi) Eliyahu ben Manashe
I've been reading many articles lately of Rabbanim who have recently departed our world. Truly awe-inspiring people who have defeated the holocaust, major illnesses and other terrible fates yet continued with strength and determination to perform mitzvos and keep Torah, and teach Torah to their students. I look at these great Rabbanim and I look at my father and the legacy he has left us and I can say very sincerely that he was no less; no less than all the great Rabbanim who are now resting along-side him. And those of you who knew him, know this is true.
One of the main qualities that I admired in my father was how much he looked beyond himself. He cared not only for his family but for the greater good of his entire community, near and far. We were the only Orthodox family in the whole of SIngapore who kept kashrut for a few years, yet during this period my father brought kosher food for the whole community. He supported, advised, and worked for countless organisations to help his fellow man in many ways. He supported needy students through university and was essential in raising donations for Israel's highest institutions. Education was very important to him because of the discrimination he faced as a child. But not only did he manage to secure higher education for his own children, he also made sure that other Jewish children would have the same opportunities in our very own country of Eretz Israel.
His aura filled the room as soon as he walked in and his absence is felt down to our bones and the depths of our neshamas. When someone leaves this world we say Kaddish to fill in the gap that he left behind. No prayer can fill in the gap of such a man. To better commemorate what my father stood for - it would be appropriate to go out and do something good for someone else purely for non egoistic reasons. Whether it be helping an old man across the street or setting up a trust fund for orphaned children, donating to the poor or to some institution in need of immediate financial support. Even a smile to someone who really needs a smile today, and these days who doesn't. One of my father's most treasured quotes which he repeated so often was, "Derech Eretz kadma le Torah". Translated usually as "The way of the world comes before Torah". There are many ways we explain this verse but what my father always kept in mind when referring to this verse was how we act towards others. When we keep Torah, we do so in the way H-Shem meant us to, to do good. We have to learn Torah and when we do so, we act politely to others, we don't hurt their feelings, we make a kiddush H-Shem so others will look at us and see what a ben or bat Torah should be. There are those unfortunately who don't follow this recourse and bring shame to the Jewish people. This does not mean however that we have to look at them as representing all "religious" people or even our Torah.
When you looked at my father you may not have seen a "Torah Scholar" but he knew Torah, and he knew how to make people love Torah. Today there are many children who grew up in Singapore who now keep Torah and mitzvos, just from pure example. He showed joy and love for Torah which was always evident to his numerous guests on his Shabbat and Yom Tov table. He loved this world and worked hard to reap the best of it and use it in his service for H-Shem.
During his last days, he walked to his chemotherapy and radiation treatments with resolute strength. He suffered from the pain but never complained. He stood up to daven his prayers even though he must have been very weak. He would walk into a room full of cancer patients and make the whole waiting room roar with laughter. That was his gift. The special charisma he had that made everyone love and respect him. We miss him and know that he is next to all the tzadikim (righteous people) who have lived and loved in this world.
I'm sure everyone knows someone who needs someone to listen to their problems, lend an ear and give a smile le'lilui neshama of this great tzaddik, that's something we are all capable of, and may his memory be cherished by us all.
Thank you for reading this and remembering him. It means a lot to us. Florrie Khafi, Sam Khafi, Joseph Khafi, Reuben Khafi, Ruth Raffi, Yael Vahedy and families.