When I heard the news that Rabbi Moshe Kuessous, z.s.l., was sick, I, like everyone else, felt terrible, and like many in the community, I prayed and undertook various commitments as a merit for his recovery.
I didn’t know the rabbi that well. My only direct interaction with him had been over 15 years ago, when one of my children attended Yeshivat Shaare Torah. But over the years since then, I would occasionally feel some guilt that perhaps during that time I had not shown him the proper respect in our discussions concerning my child’s education. When I heard of his passing—and, subsequently, read more about the extent of his greatness and what a beloved figure he had become, at Shaare Torah and elsewhere – my guilt only intensified. I would sometimes think, “Please forgive me if I was disrespectful in any way.” From what I knew of Rabbi Kuessous, I imagined that he would forgive me, but of course I had no way of knowing whether my request had been granted or even heard.
About a month after the rabbi’s passing, on a typical Sunday morning, the phone rang. A friend of mine, who is very active in the community, called unexpectedly about a personal matter related to a difficult situation my family had just been through. As the call was drawing to a close, she said, “Even though we don’t see each other that often, I feel like we’re always there for each other. I remember how you came to visit me when my father passed away…”
“You know,” I confessed, “I wasn’t sure at the time if I should visit or not. I felt like I didn’t know you that well and maybe it would upset you more.” I was relieved to hear that she had appreciated the visit.
It was at that point that a higher purpose for her call – one which had been unknown to either of us – began to reveal itself. Beyond the discussion of family matters, or our friendship, or anything else it seemed to be on the surface, my friend was unsuspectingly delivering a message from beyond…
She reminded me, “But we knew each other from when we both had kids in Shaare Torah. Then I heard that you had a class in your house… Don’t you remember? I was talking to Rabbi Kuessous and he gave me your number. He told me what a nice person you were and that I should call you.”
My heart started racing as I slowly and incredulously repeated, my voice rising with each word, “Rabbi Kuessous told you what a nice person I was?!” She confirmed this again, not understanding why I was so shocked, and I briefly explained how I had been feeling over the last month.
Could it have been a coincidence that our family’s situation had led to her calling me? And then somehow the conversation had taken an unexpected turn? I don’t think so.
The rabbi never knew how I felt – until after his passing, when the soul sees and knows everything. At that point he was able to demonstrate that a sadik’s sensitivity and caring for each person he encounters continue even after he passes on – and so he made sure, through seemingly random events, to send a consoling message of forgiveness from the next world.
May his memory be a blessing for our community and for all Am Yisrael.