On November 4, 2010 Rabbi Richard “Rube” Rubinstein was ushered into the Presence of his Messiah. He is now on the other side of the door while we wait on this side. In his last few days I think he, according to his wife, was allowed to crack that door open and peek inside for when he regained consciousness between those times of sleep, his eyes had that, “I’ve seen and heard something most amazing” look about them.
I will miss him. He was not only a Rabbi (teacher), but a mentor and a friend. He believed in my son when others only saw confusion. He accepted my daughter as one of his own even though she continues to worship elsewhere. He saw beyond circumstance. He listened. He listened beyond the words and into the heart.
I remember him holding court as it were during oneg. He’d set a chair off to the side and wait. And if you weren’t the first to pull another chair alongside his first, you waited and watched for the next opportunity along with the others who did the same. Most of the time someone would have to make him a plate of food or grab a bagel with cream cheese and take it to him. And then when you talked, his eyes were not roaming the crowd hoping to catch that “important” person. You were that important person. You had his attention. If you told him something sad, his eyes would cloud over as his heart met yours. If something you said was worthy of a laugh, his head would tilt back and he’d let out with a hardy robust “ha, ha, ha” – straight from the heart.
A few things I learned from Rabbi Rube –
Care for animals. He knew they were important to G~d by the instructions in Torah that He set forth.
Conducting one’s life as a Jew is a sacred trust. Do it well.
Passion and meekness go hand in hand.
Waiting in prayer creates anticipation.
Anything can be redeemed.
Dying with grace and dignity is a beautiful thing.
A few days ago I was in the home of the Rebbetzin surrounded by the family both blood and synagogue sitting shivah as is our custom. I was given the sweet privilege of rocking one of Rabbi’s almost three month old twin granddaughters to sleep. One of the ladies of our shul observed this, got up from the couch and whispered to me,"how appropriate – you’re holding Rube’s grandchild, while he is now holding yours.”
I’m sure Abba allowed Rube to hear that remark too. And we both smiled.