Yakuta Madar
Yakuta Madar Courtesy

Two days ago a very great woman was buried in Tzfat. A special woman, one that anyone who saw the way she lived and heard the story of her life would pause for a moment, and then look differently at life.

Her name was Yakuta Madar, and she'd been through all of life’s catastrophes. Widowed abroad at the age of 35, she immigrated to Israel alone with her six children and raised them to give, to contribute and to help the people of Israel. Two of her children, Yehudit and David Madar, were murdered in the Maalot attack that killed 22 of the students of the Tzfat high school. Then came another great tragedy, when her third son, a Border Police undercover agent, was killed in Lebanon in the disaster at Tyre.

You probably imagine this woman would be bitter, sad and perhaps angry with G-d. Perhaps a little dismissive of the commandments, perhaps despairing, perhaps tired or sickly, perhaps withdrawn or antisocial . But she was the exact opposite of all that.

She was a smart, clever and happy woman and until her last days she was constantly busy helping other people and making them happy. These were destitute, lonely people who needed friendship and warmth, or any one of her children, her grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

Every week she had meals in her house for dozens of people who came, ate, were happy, and left with shining faces. In every hilulah [public celebration in memory of holy men] of tzaddikim, she was the first to bring the refreshments and bake the bread for the people who would come and merit to hear words of Torah, to experience spiritual elevation, and to rejoice in G-d.

This woman was always filled with the love of G-d, always received everything from Him with love, always said that He was doing the right thing, always trusted Him and never complained.

The Ministry of Defense several times offered her a large, spacious apartment instead of her small house. But she preferred modesty in both her attire and in her home. The small, old house in which she lived was never too small to hold all the people whom she did her best to make happy and feed, giving them of the little that she had. Our Sages say that the combination of the heroism and love of women like her creates light like the sun: "and those who love Him are as the glory of the sun."

I always remind myself of the light and joy and the life of this special woman. And I suggest that you remember her whenever fatigue, laziness or sorrow want to take over your life. Remember her every time that life doesn't go the way you'd like. Remember her every time you have questions about G-d. Remember this tzadeket [righteous woman] who was full of love and light, faith, kindness, giving and the love of G-d all of her days, and you will receive a great deal of strength and faith.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat

Did you find a mistake in the article or inappropriate advertisement? Report to us