‘You Were a Like a Father to Me’

In an letter to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky AH, California shliach Rabbi Raleigh Resnick thanks him for the care that came from his generous spirit, effervescent personality, charisma, good heart, and his devotion to the Rebbe.

In a personal letter addressed to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, shliach in Tri-Valley, CA, Rabbi Raleigh Resnick shares his thanks for all of the warmth and care, and makes a request for when Rabbi Kotlarsky reports to headquarters on high.


Dear Rabbi Kotlarsky ז״ל,

I’m not one to publicly express personal sentiments & reflections, but as I sit here on the plane returning home from your funeral, I look for a fitting expression for my overflowing mind and heart.

I hope these words that “the living can take to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2) can serve this purpose and bring an עליה (elevation) to your soul.

As one who grew up in your home (my Bar Mitzvah reception was hosted in your dining room), much of what I am today is a reflection of the education I gleaned from you and your wife – may she live and be well, until 120.

Most glaringly for me as a child was your disregard for personal lavishness and luxury. For most of my childhood and early adulthood your home was, quite literally, a standing miracle (if you were there, you know I’m not exaggerating). The contrast of your humble home standing on its last legs with its rich overflowing hospitality and warmth was one of life’s beauties.

Even when you redid your home, the paint barely had time to dry before it became a shul and an open house for a never-ending stream of guests – world Jewish leaders, influential personalities, and simpletons alike.

You and your family taught me, by example, to host as many people as your home can handle (maybe more than that too) and to feed your guests graciously and generously, irrespective of cost, time, or energy.

And your office? The office of Chabad’s global ambassador and one the world’s most influential Jewish figures? An unimposing room, faded carpet, and meager shelving; not a chamber that echoed stature and authority.

When fellow shluchim would ask me how they can get a hold of you, I would share your cell number. Their befuddlement was always the same: “You mean he just gives out his cell number, I call, and he’ll answer?!”

You also taught me the value of sharing in the joy of others. You made it your business to be at personal simchas and you genuinely appreciated others who came to share in your joy. In fact, just a few months ago as your illness was raging and your body was weakening, you flew to Northern CA to be at our son’s bris (a visit we’ll always treasure).

As my father became ill at a young age, you became a father figure to our family. You convinced me to start dating and guided me along my wedding and marriage. Through your efforts, my father got to meet Fruma and walk me to the chuppah (he passed away 2 months later).

You showed me what pastoral care looks like: Being at my father’s bedside each hospital stay, foregoing your attendance at conferences and events just in order to be there for our family, and being an anchor for my mother and my siblings. You took charge after my father’s passing and held our hands for these past 20 years.

But why? Why did you take our family, the family of shluchim, and countless others under your wings?

Yes, it was your generous spirit, effervescent personality, charisma, and good heart. But it was more than that. Your motivation was the greatest legacy and lesson you leave for me.

You did it because of your passionate devotion to your Rebbe. In our case, my father treated the Rebbe as his physician. And you – a devotee of the Rebbe – were going to repay that care to my father and our family.

Your life’s work involved navigating complex and delicate situations, developing relationships for Chabad, and raising mega-dollars. But when it came to the Rebbe, there were no nuances, compromises, hesitations, or smoothing things over. There was only: these are the Rebbe’s marching orders. My job is to bring him satisfaction and fulfill the shlichus (mission).

That is what motivated you to take care of me, to take care of the shluchim, to put your heart and soul into the kinus, and to be the vehicle through which the Rebbe’s expansive vision has come to fruition around the globe.

Watching you, a father figure to me, suffering from the very same illness as my own father, made the bitterness of exile more palpable these past many months.

When I visited you in the hospital two weeks ago on my father’s 20th yahrtzeit and shared some successes in our shlichus, you mustered the strength to give me that big encouraging “thumbs up” to keep going. Yes, as you requested from us shluchim in your last will & testament, I will, please G-d, increase my efforts to fulfill my shlichus and saturate the world with more mitzvahs.

And we ask you Rabbi Kotlarsky; as you ascend on high reporting back to headquarters; as you reunite with our dear Rebbe, please pound on the doors of the heavenly chambers with all your might and plead before G-d Almighty that He, once and for all, end this long bitter exile; end all pain and suffering; and reunite us all once again back down here on this earth with משיח צדקנו and the final redemption.

With eternal thanks and heartfelt gratitude,

Raleigh Resnick

You can be a part of perpetuating Rabbi Kotlarsky’s legacy here: www.rebmosheslegacy.com

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