HOUSEKEEPER AND COUSIN
January 27, 2016
Beis Moshiach in #1006, 22 Shvat, Tzivos Hashem

Presented for Chaf-Beis Shevat, the day that Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the wife of the Rebbe, passed away

By Nechama Bar

It was a sunny day in Florida and Dr. Schild* and his wife were sitting outside, enjoying the breeze and the scenery.  There was a beautiful garden in the yard with fruit trees – date palms, mango, avocado, citrus fruits and more.  Flowerbeds adorned the paths of the garden with an array of colors.  It was a delight to sit there in the shade and take it all in.

The Schild family put a lot of money into their garden as well as into their magnificent home.  Money was no problem for them.

“Is the suitcase ready? Did you arrange with a driver to take you to the airport?” asked Mrs. Schild.

“Of course.  Everything was arranged a week ago.  I am so excited about going to New York.  It will be an opportunity for me to see Rabbi Schneersohn.”

“We can have a basket with fruits and flowers that grow in our yard arranged for him.  It will be mishloach manos for Purim which is coming up soon,” said his wife.  She went to fetch a beautiful basket and began filling it with fruits and flowers.

“It’s gorgeous! I see you have another talent that I didn’t know about,” smiled Dr. Schild.

“Maybe the Rebbe and Rebbetzin will agree to come and visit us,” she said excitedly, thrilled by the idea.  “We can host them, putting them on the first floor which has a separate entrance.  They will enjoy Florida’s beautiful weather which is wonderful in the winter.  People flock here for the good weather.  So please, don’t forget to offer it to them.”

Her husband nodded.  Yes, this was the most wonderful thing he could imagine.  He hoped the Rebbe and Rebbetzin would agree.

The plane landed at Kennedy Airport in New York.  The cab driver brought the doctor to his destination.  The doctor did not delay.  He took the basket which he had guarded carefully throughout the trip and hurried to the Rebbe’s house on President Street.

He rang the bell and his heart beat rapidly.  The door was opened by a refined looking woman.  The doctor held out the basket and said, “This basket is for the Rebbe, for Purim, from Dr. Schild.  Please give it to him.” 

The woman thanked him warmly and asked him to wait.  A few minutes later she returned with a five dollar bill which she gave him as a tip.

“I thank you very much but there is no need for a tip.  I myself am Dr. Schild,” said the doctor, not taking the money.

“Oh, if you are the doctor then please come in,” said the woman.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am the housekeeper and cousin of the Rebbe,” said the woman matter-of-factly.

The doctor thought, “How terrific it is that the Rebbe has such a refined woman to run his house.  I’m sure she does her work faithfully and devotedly.”

The doctor entered the house and began telling the “housekeeper” about the beautiful garden he had behind his house.  He told her about their idea, “My wife and I thought of offering the Rebbe and Rebbetzin to come and stay with us.  That way, the Rebbe, who never takes a vacation, will be able to rest a bit and restore his strength.  They will have absolute privacy because there are many trees close together surrounding the yard which conceal the house from passersby.  In Florida the weather is wonderful and warm in the winter.” 

The doctor concluded his enthusiastic description with, “We would be so honored to have the Rebbe and Rebbetzin agree to come to our house.  Can you convey this message to them?”

The woman, who had given him her full attention, said, “I will repeat exactly what you said.”

The doctor stayed a few more minutes.  The “housekeeper” made it so pleasant and he enjoyed talking to her.  When he left the house he thought, “What a wonderful woman.  How blessed is a house that has someone like her caring for it.”

He walked slowly down President Street, deep in thought.  On his way he encountered a man dressed in a suit and hat who looked like a Chassid of the Rebbe.  The doctor, who was so amazed by his visit, stopped the Chassid to talk to him.

“I was just in the Rebbe’s house.  What a fantastic housekeeper they have there, so warm and devoted.  I was so happy to see that the Rebbe has such good help.”

The Chassid was taken aback by this.  He had never heard of someone like that in the Rebbe’s house.  “I am a bit surprised.  I don’t know about any such person. Please describe her.”

The doctor began to describe the woman and all of a sudden the Chassid jumped, as though bitten by a snake.  He said, “Oy! That wasn’t the housekeeper.  That was the Rebbetzin! Why did you think she was the housekeeper?”

The shocked doctor said, “Why did I think so? I did not think so; she told me so! I asked who she was and she said she ran the house and is a cousin of the Rebbe.  Why did the Rebbetzin tell me that?”

The Chassid smiled and said, “The Rebbetzin spoke the truth.  She does run the house as every good Jewish woman does, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and putting things in order.  And it is also true that she is the Rebbe’s cousin because she is the daughter of the previous Rebbe who was a descendant of the Tzemach Tzedek.  The Rebbe is also a descendant of the Tzemach Tzedek so they are cousins.”

It took the doctor a long time to recover from the shock.  He had had the opportunity to see how special the Rebbetzin was, along with her incomparable simplicity, humility, and modesty.

The Rebbetzin made it a point not to stand out, not to receive honor, and not to announce who she was when it wasn’t necessary.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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