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The Rabbi's Blog

A Message from Rabbi Spalter

Mrs. Pearl Lazarus, OBM. A lesson in Love and Commitment

How often do you hear the phrase “oy, I miss the good old days” or “if only we can bring back the fifties and sixties”. I was not around during those decades to remember much, but often times I do identify with those sentiments. While I try not to live in the past and instead try to make my present meaningful and long lasting, there is obviously so much we can learn from our parents and grandparent’s generation.

It is interesting that while our elders rely on our generation more and more for modern technological developments which makes our and their lives so much more convenient, we find ourselves having to rely on their generation more and more for basic human behavior and morals and ethical truths. It seems as though the more we develop technologically, the more we lose touch with our inner souls and core values. Maybe physical comforts and the spiritual ethical lifestyle are like a seesaw. When one side is up the other is down and vise versa. Does it really have to be this way? The Torah of course says no. One can have all the comforts in the world [after all G-d created all of it] and at the same time be a good moral and ethical human being. But for that we must keep in touch with the “fifties and sixties” or whatever decade of the past you choose. We need to be anchored in the values that were so obvious to our elders and for some reason got lost on our youth.

Let’s take marriage as an example. In the past, marriage was treated as something sacred. It was a sacred commitment. A sacred union. Our parents fought to stay married and at all costs. Divorce was out of the question. It was entertained in such extreme cases that it was almost unheard of especially amongst Jews. I know that some say many couples were trapped in miserable marriages as a result, but the truth is that even if that were true [and I am sure it was in some instances (by the way, much less then you are led to believe)], it only emphasizes how the institution of marriage was treated. You married your soulmate and that was it. As a result, deep love and commitment was palpable. Absolute devotion to one’s spouse was commonplace. Compare that to today’s attitudes. The numbers are well known. Over 50 percent divorce rate. So many people see marriage and the commitment to a spouse like to a leased car. When you reach 36,000 miles and the headaches begin, you change it in for a new one. This is a catastrophe of enormous proportion. Probably the single greatest cause for the problems with our youth, and those problems do not go away when they become adults. When you sum it all up, we are dealing with over 60 percent of society who have no idea what proper family life looks like. How can we not “miss the good old days”.

Wednesday night a very dear friend of Chabad of Weston passed away. Mrs. Pearl Lazarus. I met Pearl about 24 years ago. She was special in so many ways, but I want to point out just one of them. I am sure that she and her husband, may he be well, will not know what I am talking about. In their minds there is nothing unique about it but in today’s day and age, it is very unique and special. I refer to their marriage.  Theirs was the paradigmatic marriage. They loved each other to no end and that led to an absolute commitment they had to each other. For over 60 years they knew one thing. That they are bashert and they are one. They cared for each other in ways that leave the observer in awe and in wonderment. Even as their health began to decline and deep into their ninth decade of life they remained completely and utterly devoted to each other. Even as she lied in bed Wallace would read the newspaper to his Pearl every day even though he was not sure if she was able to hear and understand what he was reading. He took care of her to the last day with so much love. This was the Lazarus way. There was no if, what’s or buts about it, and of course it was mutual. The funny thing is, that if I told Wallace and Pearl Lazarus how special they were and how in awe I am at their commitment to each other, they would not understand what I was talking about. What to us is so inspiring is to them regular every day thinking. This world is a better place after 89 years of Pearl Lazarus of Blessed Memory. It would be great if our hip and sophisticated young couples can look to this gleaming Pearl and her husband and learn a thing or two from them.

May her memory be a blessing for her family and all of us.

Good Shabbos.

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