The following was compiled based on Rav Aharon Pessin’s hesped delivered at the l’vayah held on Thursday, October 14, at the Schwartz Brothers-Jeffer Memorial Chapels in Forest Hills. K’vurah followed at New Montefiore Cemetery.
Barry, born on April 4, 1951, was a dear friend of the Queens community, remaining active in both Congregation Etz Chaim and the Young Israel of Queens Valley. Barry also served as an Officer on the Board of the Yeshiva of Central Queens, in addition to taking on the role of being the community liaison to Kollel Shomrei HaChomos.
Mr. Gavarin is survived by his wife Mindy Gavarin, and their children Eitan (and Yakira) Gavarin and Amir (and Naava) Gavarin.
Barry Gavarin z”l, Baruch ben Yosef, and Rav Aharon Pessin began learning together some 20 years ago. What began as a one-hour chavrusa session usually eclipsed 2.5 to 3.5, and even 6 hours straight of learning. “Because when Barry started learning, it was like putting a child in a candy store,” said Rav Pessin. “He derived chiyus, energy, and life itself from Torah.”
Barry spent much of his day learning in the beis midrash of the Young Israel of Queens Valley. His nature was to give those in need, never declining a soul, and earning him the title of being a gadol ha’dor in chesed. “There’s a pasuk, ‘Tzedek, tzedek tirdof’; Barry formed a new one: ‘chesed, chesed tirdof,” related Rav Pessin.
Barry took chesed to a new level. Once, while learning in Yeshiva Kesser Torah, Rav Pessin called Barry to relate a chidush from the halachic responsa sefer Tzitz Eliezer. Barry knew that the Tzitz Eliezer named Rav Pessin at his bris milah, and he was disturbed that Rav Pessin would travel to a shul to learn from the sefer. Twenty-four hours after this conversation, Rav Pessin met Barry at the gas station opposite Gift World with five bags containing the 22 volumes of the Tzitz Eliezer. Barry said, “Well, he named you at your bris; don’t you think you should have it at home?”
When Rav Pessin made aliyah, Barry came to the airport with a gemara in hand, poised to make a siyum. “He sat me down and we made the most exciting siyum. Perek Gimmel, Maseches N’darim, in the airport! Now that’s the way to make aliyah!”
Barry passed on to the Olam HaEmes at the age of 70. One of his favorite p’sukim was from T’hilim (90:10): “Y’mei sh’noseinu bahem shiv’im shanah,” meaning, “The days of our life are 70 years.” “In this case, it’s not true,” said Rav Pessin. “It’s 70 years on the calendar. Barry is going Upstairs with a life full of what normal people complete in 200 years or more: the amount of chesed, Torah, davening, that he was able to fill his life with.” Barry fully believed that each word of davening had meaning and literally highlighted them all to show how each word counts. “Barry wasn’t davening to be yotzei, rather to say ‘I was there.’”
The Yamim Tovim were special for Barry, and he has a special connection to the Ushpizin of Sukkos. Throughout the year, Barry spent much of his time emersed in delivering thousands of envelopes to needy individuals and various organizations, always discreetly. These collections are one of the many ways that the greater Queens community came to know and respect Barry.
It is normal that when a person loses something, he is bothered. For example, did you ever lose your cell phone or leave your house without it? Maybe it was your car keys? I can surmount that you look troubled. However, there is only one thing that, while you search for it, you are actually happy. In T’hilim (105:3) it says, “Yismach leiv m’vakshei Hashem. Those who seek Hashem will be happy.” Barry was a classic illustration of this trait. He was so happy – always being samei’ach b’chelko with his lot in life. In reality, Barry was always happy, because he was searching for HaKadosh Baruch Hu and how best to do His will. Yismach leiv, true happiness, can only be gained through being a m’vakeish Hashem. This defines Barry so well, and is the greatest accolade one can attain, according to Rav Pessin.
“I knew Barry for 20 years. There is no concept of asking for m’chilah, because he just didn’t care,” said Rav Pessin. “People stepped on him, but ‘v’nafshi k’afar, la’kol tih’yeh,” And he knew it. But he didn’t care. What does Hashem want me to do right now? That’s the only thing that was on Barry’s mind.” Barry never allowed himself to become offended.
Rav Pessin encourages us all to accept good kabalos on ourselves to try to emulate Barry. “Mah hu – af atah. Be like him. And grab onto good midos.” And when you do that, it’s the greatest ilui neshamah; his neshamah can ascend higher and higher in the upper worlds.