Sunday, October 26, 2008

Memories of Chazzan Frankel

Today was the levayo for Chazzan Frankel.

As is our custom, since no tachanun is said today, there was no hesped (eulogy) given at his funeral. I thought I'd just share a few "personal" remembrances and thougths here:

  • Chazzan Frankel attended my parents-in-laws' wedding. He sang "Shir Hamaalos", as only he could, at Avram and my wedding. Every since Erica was a little girl, he would say to her, "Hurry up. I'm getting older and I want to sing Shir Hamaalos at your wedding". When Erica got engaged, he was one of the first people she called. He not only sang at HER wedding, but he also sang at Michael's wedding eight months later.

  • Chazzan Frankel never forgot a friend's birthday. This was probably the first year in my husband's adult memory that Chazzan Frankel did NOT take him out to lunch on his birthday.

  • Chanzzan Frankel had a TERRIFIC sense of humor!

And now for my thoughts/frustrations.....

Jen had a lot of questions last night, and the hardest ones for me to deal with were the ones that stemmed from what I feel is an overly extreme way of teaching certain ideals to our children in the yeshiva system, ESPECIALLY around yomim noro'im time....

She was beside herself that had she said more tehillim, he would still be alive. She felt a terrible personal responsibility for his death.

She also has been somehow taught by her teachers that only those COMPLETELY FREE OF SIN attain the best of Olam Habah and the "beinonim" hover somewhere else that has obviously not been painted too attractively by her teachers... a bitter pill to swallow for a little girl old enough to realize that none of us are perfect. I did my best to explain to her that Hashem is merciful and he creates us as imperfect creatures and he is far LESS judgemental than Acheinu Bnei Yisroel.

{Stepping off my soapbox now}

An interesting lesson to be learned from a story Chazzan Frankel told about his life:

Chazzan Frankel never ate at a public kiddush on Shabbos morning. Why? Because of something somebody said to him when he was about three years old. Something that tore at him for the next EIGHTY SIX years.

Chazzan Frankel lost his father when he was two years old. His mother, left with very limited means, opened a boarding house so that her family could stay afloat. CF went with his brother when he was about 3 or 4 to a kiddush on Shabbos morning and somebody looked down on him and said, "I know why you need to eat here... you don't get fed at home". CF never ate another thing at a kiddush. Regardless of that man's motiviation, it behooves us to realize that even the smallest of comments have the ability to stay with a person for the rest of his life.


daughtersintheparsha said...

it's tough to tell kids they shouldn't feel that "personal responsibility" in a case like this, when they are constantly being taught how each person is important, etc.

you can explain that the tehilim she said may have made his entrance to shomayim easier, or is heard by hashem and "filed" for a refuah for other ill people.
One of my kids once came home from school with a great thought from a teacher. There is a traffic jam in Shomayim of prayers and cries- but when the tefilos of a child come up, everything moves out of the way and the children's supplications go directly to Hashem.

But of course, we also need to teach our kids that just because we ask Hashem for something doesn't mean He will give it to us, but He will do the best thing for us.

Anonymous said...

While not a member of the kehilo hakedosho, I have many a fond memory of Chazan Frankel. His "Shir Hama'alos" on Motzei Shabbat is, of course, an enduring memory for me, as is the image of him standing regally in front of the menorah, long taper in hand, moving the shamash side to side as he sang out the brachot.

I just saw his grandson last night, and, while speaking to him, was overcome by the thought that now I have to find the words to express to others what CF represented, because I can no longer show them.

תהי נפשו צרורה בצרור החיים

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YW said...

Last shabbos at the wonderful Oneg someone asked me when I was eating before the speech "Your wife doesn't feed you at home" I'm not sure I'm on the level of Chazzon Frankel but I will think twice about the next time I eat in public. (A little self control won't hurt either)