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Striving for Perfection


I WAS NOT PERSONALLY privileged to be acquainted with Nancy, as we moved to Eretz Yisroel when she was still quite young, some thirty-one years ago. However from the heartfelt writings that her family has shared with me, I’ve gathered a pretty clear idea of who she was.

I see this remarkable woman as a person possessing two extraordinary virtues which, in my opinion, are both quite rare. One falls into the sphere of bein adam la’Mokom (areas touching on the relationship an individual has with G-d), while the other belongs to the bein adam l’chaveiro (interpersonal relationship) category. I will begin with the first relationship.

Nancy lived in the Big City, with all of its allures at her fingertips. She had a good number of acquaintances from all backgrounds—Jewish and non-Jewish, religious Jews and irreligious. She spent considerable periods of time associating with them under enjoyable and friendly circumstances.

She was admired and extremely popular among the people she knew. Her sociable and outgoing nature, her positive and happy disposition, and her sensitivity towards others’ needs and feelings made her well-liked among many who did not have an understanding, an interest, or even an appreciation for Jewish law and the Torah way of life.

In his Book of Proverbs (Mishlei 27:19), King Solomon states, “As water reflects the type of face you make, so, too, is one person’s heart to another.” In the positive sense, this means that you take a liking to those who like you. The Rambam (Hilchos Dayos 6) asserts that it is human nature to be influenced in one’s actions and ways of thinking by his companions and friends, and to conduct himself like his fellow countrymen.

Nancy’s friendship with a wide range of people was liable to raise difficult challenges regarding her own commitment to religious values, as it would for even the most steadfast individual. The challenge was compounded by the lifestyle she chose, the schedule she kept, and the distant places she loved to visit, all of which created difficulties in keeping Shabbos, the laws of kashrus, davening, and other Torah observances.

Nancy rose to the challenge. Her strong inner commitment to Judaism defied all the rules of human nature, arousing even greater respect in those who witnessed her devout adherence to the Torah despite all of the difficulties. In this, she was a true Makadeshes Hashem (sanctifier of G-d’s name).

At the end of Parashas Behar, we read about an individual who, out of poverty, sells himself as a slave to an idolater. Hashem tells him, “The Jews are my servants, I am your G-d.” And the verse continues, “Do not serve idolatry: observe my Sabbath, and fear my Holy Place, [for] I am G-d.”

Rashi explains that this slave, over the course of time, might think to himself, “My master worships idols, works on Shabbos, and so forth, why shouldn’t I?” Therefore, G-d cautions him not to succumb to this kind of thinking. He lets him know that despite being a slave, G-d has not abandoned him. The slave—indeed, any individual—is just as close to Hashem as is any other Jew.

The verse ends, “Keep my Shabbos and honor and fear my Holy Place.” The Ramban explains that these two injunctions include all of the mitzvos because they provide the Jew with an awareness of G-d’s presence. In trying situations, he is told to keep these mitzvos; the rest will naturally fall in line.


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Acknowledgments Introduction Testimonies Photo Gallery 1 Reflections from Nancy's Mother