On Shabbos, Parshas Chayei Sarah, the world lost a person who, in my eyes, was one of the hidden lamed-vav (36) tzadikim of the world. Berish Teichman was a man who lived his whole life l’sheim shamayim. The first pasuk in Parshas Chayei Sarah states: “And the life of Sarah was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years.” Rashi comments that all the years of Sarah’s life were equally good. But were they? Sarah Imeinu suffered tremendously in her lifetime. She was barren, she experienced famine, and was taken captive by Pharaoh and Avimelech. However, our mother Sarah always said that everything was “Gam zo l’tovah” – “This, too, is for the good.” She was aware that everything was from HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and therefore it must be good.
This commentary describes Berish Teichman’s life to a tee. For many years, Berish suffered with heart problems. He was blind, on oxygen, and suffered unbearable pain in his joints; and he was many times confined to a wheelchair. But his simchas ha’chayim and love for Hashem and his mitzvos was incomparable.
Berish’s grandson, Yehudah Aryeh, related that he watched his zeide in shul every morning as Berish would put dollar bills on the table in front of himself. When he asked his zeide why he behaved in this fashion, Berish answered, “If a poor man or a m’shulach would stretch out his hand for a donation and not get a response, that person would not realize Berish was blind and would feel rejected. Therefore, he put money on the table for those individuals to take. On days when he knew that more people came, he put extra money on the table. Also, he added to Yehudah Aryeh, this way he wouldn’t be disturbed when he was davening and talking to Hashem.
Berish found joy in being alive and expressed his gratitude to Hashem constantly and was free of complaints.
One day, Rav Kolodetsky, esteemed son-in-law of the Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, came to Kew Gardens Hills. Reb Berish wanted to go for a brachah but couldn’t maneuver the many steps leading up to the host’s house. An arrangement was made, and Rav Kolodetsky graciously came to the Teichman home. Berish was so excited. The Rav gave a brachah to the new bar mitzvah boy, Yehudah Aryeh, and then asked Berish how he spends his time every day. Reb Berish answered that he davens and says T’hilim two or three times a day for cholim. The Rav asked if he says T’hilim for himself, and Berish answered, “Only when I am in a lot of pain.” Rav Kolodetsky asked him if he says T’hilim for his eyesight to return. Berish answered that he doesn’t feel he can ask for anything for himself. “Sometimes,” he said, “I did, I wanted to see my mother’s face one last time before she passed on, and the faces of my grandchildren.” Rav Kolodetsky answered, “Just know that because you don’t have eyes that see, you are carrying the ol, the yoke, for all of klal Yisrael. By living life this way, you are saving other people.
After that meeting, Reb Berish told his wife not to tell him who is at the door or what the grandchildren are wearing. He said, “I want to accept all of my problems with love and b’simchah, with total happiness, so that no one else will go through these yisurim. Berish Teichman was always someone who thought and cared about others more than he cared about himself.
The Zera Shimshon, Reb Shimshon Chaim Nachmani, on Parshas Toldos, says that the Midrash (B’reishis Rabbah 65:9) tells us that Yitzchak Avinu asked Hashem to send him yisurim – pain and suffering – because if a person passes away without yisurim, the midos of din (judgment) will accost him in the next world (Zera Shimshon, ArtScroll). Hashem answered that it is a good request and told Yitzchak, “I will start with you.” Therefore, the pasuk states (27:1), “It was when Yitzchak had become old, and his eyes dimmed from seeing.”
Berish Teichman suffered many yisurim during his lifetime, but he never lost his sense of humor and his love of Hashem. He accepted all of his yisurim graciously, with love.
May Berish be a meilitz yosher for his beloved wife, Toby, who was always by his side and took special care of him so devotedly for many years, with all the many trips to the hospital and rehab centers. Toby never left him alone, even for one night. His sons Yitzchok Shraga, Rabbi Moshe Chaim, and Yisroel Meir, his brother Shmuel, his sisters Tzypy and Idel, grandchildren, and dear friends who loved him deeply – Berish was an inspiration to all who knew him. May we be zocheh to emulate his ways.
Y’hi zichro baruch!
By Malkie Machlis