Every time I think of Reb Chayim, I can’t help but feel so much gratitude towards Hashem for perfectly placing him into my life. Not a day goes by where the lessons I learned from him don’t come into play. I met Reb Chayim when I was 9 years old. He and his beautiful wife Devorah came to stay at my house in Atlanta for about a week. During that time they completely transformed my home. As a little girl with four older siblings, it was a “Mary Poppins experience.” Chayim would wake up super early to make sure we had a fun, exciting breakfast before we went to school. He brought so much excitement and positive energy into my home with his hilarious, “let loose” personality, and taught us how the whole week should be about preparing for the special day of Shabbos. By Wednesday we already had the chairs and silverware shined beautifully with the table set while we sang his “likavod Shabbos kodesh” (In honor of the holy Shabbos) song. Since then, I anticipate Shabbos every week by doing things likavod Shabbos kodesh just as Reb Chayim taught me.
When I was 16, I spent the summer in Israel, and “happened” to stay by the Daskals for Shabbos. I say it like that because Chayim taught me that things don’t just “happen,” every single thing in life is perfectly orchestrated by the One Above. Although I thought I was just staying by his home for the weekend because I had nowhere else to go, it was no coincidence and I was made to have a Shabbos I could never forget. One thing that I will always remember were his huge Shabbos meals. His table was filled with food and guests, with a permanent stack of chairs waiting for an unexpected visitor to pop in for the meal. When Reb Chayim spoke to one of his guests, he always gave them his full attention, as if in that very moment they were the only person in the world that mattered. His hilarious, fun-loving personality made every guest feel comfortable in his home, whether they were his best friend or someone he just met. He had a special impact on every soul he encountered. Reb Chayim’s insightful remarks to me over just one Shabbos taught me things about myself and life that I was never aware of (continue from above) and made an impact on every soul he encountered.el valuable and important, which is one tool that helped h. Reb Chayim taught me to take advantage of every single opportunity in life – reminding me that I should never walk away from anything great that I have in my life, but rather appreciate it and thank Gd for it.
Last year while I was in seminary in Israel, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the Daskal family. Every time I left their home, I was a changed person. Chayim was a wealth of Torah and knowledge, and he helped me by not only transforming the way I view myself, but also the way I view those around me. He taught me how to really take advantage of the world I’m living in and what it means to truly love every person that I know. The Daskal home was a place filled with the most genuine love possible – and it was felt by all the different types of people that walked in their open door. He would sit with me for hours until I could grasp everything that I wanted to know. He taught me what it means to be real. To stop lying to myself and others because I was too afraid to admit my faults and imperfections. He reminded me that humans make mistakes and encouraged me to learn from them. He helped me see what it means to actually be my best self – to make my own decisions and be my own person, not someone that my environment expects me to be. Sometimes, breaking the typical rules can make all the difference.
He taught me to embrace every situation that Gd put me in. When Chayim was battling cancer, the word “cancer” was never a scary word. It was not something to hide or whisper about because it was Gds will and ultimately everything is for the best. I struggled in understanding how one could have such faith, but that was just Chayim – for him, there was no other way to go. He wasn’t someone who just preached and sat there teaching lessons – every single ounce of wisdom that he spoke, he truly lived that way with every fiber of his being. I learned from Reb Chayim by his actions, not just his words.
I owe so much of who I am today to Reb Chayim. I could write for hours of all the many more lessons he taught me, but I will just say one more for now. Chayim believed in never giving up. If you want something in life – you better go and get it. Don’t ever convince yourself that there is something you cannot do. Sometimes it may look as if something is impossible, but that’s just your evil inclination getting in the way and trying to hold you back from achieving your ultimate goal. We will have to fight and we will have to struggle to get to where we want to be, but that is only going to make us better people. The best things are worth fighting for. We just have to push ourselves and we WILL get there.
That is why I have decided to push myself and run in the Jerusalem marathon. It is something I have been wanting to do for a while now, but I just didn’t know if it was something I would be able to do. I know that Chayim would want me to live on the lessons he taught me, and that is exactly what I am doing. Although I am nervous and scared for what it all entails, Chayim continues to give me the motivation to physically push myself more than ever before. Please Gd, I will be running the half marathon on March 13, 2015 in memory of Reb Chayim Daskal a”h, and in honor of his wife Devorah, and four young children, Batsheva Malka, Rina Nechama, Chana Simcha, and Elimelech.