On Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah, November 23, 2019, the world lost a person in my eyes who was one of the 36 of the world. Reb Berish Teichman (Reb Yisachar Dov Berish ben Reb Avraham z”l), was a man who lived his whole life in the name of Hashem. The first pasuk in this week’s parshah states, “And the life of Sarah Imeinu was 100 years, 20 years, and seven years.” Rashi comments that all the years of Sarah’s life were equally good. But were they? Sarah suffered tremendously in her lifetime. She was barren, she experienced famine, and was taken captive by Pharoah 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 must be good.
This commentary describes Berish’s life to a tee. For many years, Berish suffered with heart problems. He was blind, on oxygen, had unbearable pain in his joints, and many times was confined to a wheelchair. But his joy for life 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 he would put dollar bills on the table in front of himself. When he asked why he behaved in this fashion, Berish answered, “If a poor man or meshulach who would stretch out his hands for a donation and not get a response, that person would not realize that I am blind and would feel rejected. Therefore, I put money on the table for those individuals to take.” On days when Berish knew that more people came to collect, he put extra money on the table. Also, he added to his grandson, “This way I won’t be disturbed when I am davening and talking to Hashem.”
Berish found joy in being alive and expressed his gratitude to his Creator constantly and was free of complaints.
One day, Rav Yitzchak Kolodetsky, esteemed son-in-law of the Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l, came to Kew Gardens Hills. Reb Berish wanted to go for a brachah but couldn’t maneuver the many steps leading to the host’s home. 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. Berish answered that he davens and says T’hilim two or three times a day for the sick. The rav asked if he says T’hilim for himself, and Berish answered, “Only when I’m not in a lot of pain.” Rav Kolodetsky asked if he says T’hilim for his eyesight to return, to which Berish answered that he doesn’t feel he can ask for anything for himself, but admitted, “Sometimes,” adding, “I wanted to see my mother’s face one last time before she passed on, and the faces of my grandchildren.” Rav Kolodetsky said back, “Just know that because you don’t have eyes that see, you are carrying the “ol,” the yoke for gantz klal Yisrael. By living life this way, you are saving other people.
After the meeting, Berish told his wife, Toby, not to tell him who was at the door or what the grandchildren were wearing. He said, “I want to accept all of my problems “b’ahavah,” with love, and “b’simchah,” with total happiness, so that no one else will go through these yisurim, pain, and struggles. Berish was always someone who thought and cared about others more than he cared about himself.
The Zera Shimshon (Rav 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, because if a person passes away without these struggles, the characteristics 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, “It was when Yitzchak had become old, and his eyes dimmed from seeing” (27:1).
Berish suffered through many struggles during his lifetime, but never lost his sense of humor and love of Hashem. He accepted all of his yisurim graciously and with love. May Berish be a meilitz yosher for his beloved wife who was always by his side and took care of him so devotedly for many years, with all the many trips to the hospital and rehab centers. Toby never left him even for one night. His sons, Yitzchak Shraga, Rav Moshe Chaim, and Yisrael Meir, his brother Shmuel, his sisters Tzypy and Idel, grandchildren, and dear friends loved him deeply. Berish was an inspiration to all who knew him. May we merit to emulate his ways.
Y’hi zichro baruch.
By Malkie Machlis