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A Pearl in Matityahu

Jul 6, 2012 at 07:37:17 AM

The world suffered a huge loss this week with the passing of Shoshana Chaya Shachar, a young mother of four from Moshav Matityahu.

Shoshana Chaya was the wife of Rafi Shachar, a graphic artist who designed some of the earliest iterations of the Aish website, and who has been creative director for some of's most successful viral films.

Shoshana Chaya's life was not easy. She lost her father at an early age, and battled many years from the illness that would eventually claim her life. Yet her optimism and cheer never waned.

At the funeral, Rabbi Zev Leff, the spiritual leader of Moshav Matityahu, spoke of King Solomon's immortal words from Proverbs chapter 31 – "Aishes Chayil" (Woman of Valor) – that we sing at the Shabbat dinner in tribute to Jewish women. Why, asked Rabbi Leff, does the verse compare this accompished woman's value to "far beyond pearls"? Why not gold or some other valuable commodity?

Rabbi Leff explained that the process of becoming a pearl occurs when a microscopic intruder enters a mollusk and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, secretes a chemical which ultimately produces a pearl.

In other words, the pearl's greatness is achieved only through having endured trials. In that regard, Shoshana Chaya Shachar was a master.

Rabbi Leff then wondered about a seeming contradiction: One verse describes the rarity of such a pearl: Aishes Chayil mi yimtzah – "a woman of valor, who can find?", but then testifies that "rabos banos asu chayil" – "You, God, have made many women of valor." So is such a woman rare, or common?

Rabbi Leff answered: A careful reading of the verses shows that a woman of valor is rare to "find" – in other words, attaining this level doesn't come automatically. Only those who the Almighty has challenged with irritants – of those, God has "made" many.

Also at the funeral, Shoshana Chaya's teenage son Yaakov spoke eloquently of his gratitude for lessons learned from his mother:

"I learned from you that whatever happens is good. And though we might not understand what God is trying to tell us, it's always for a good reason. You taught me to see the good in every hard situation. I learned so many lessons and I'm lucky I got to learn them at such a young age – so that I get to use them my whole life. I learned how to appreciate what I have now and not look at what I don't have. I learned how to appreciate my family. And I learned that life is good."

Shoshana Chaya was known to have absolute dedication to her family and friends. What struck me when I visited the shiva house was the care and concern that Rafi and the four children show for each other. They offer genuine support and encouragement, and are committed to sticking together to help each other. It is this unity that will enable them to pass this tragic time, and it is this legacy of love that Shoshana Chaya leaves behind. May her memory be for a blessing.

Listen to eulogies by Rabbi Leff, Rabbi Yitzchok Berkovits, husband Rafi, and son Yaakov.

July 6, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Sarah Malka Eisen, July 8, 2012 2:38 PM

Thanks for sharing our pearl -Chaya Shachar a'h-with the rest of the world via Chaya was a dear friend to all of us on Matityahu. Publicizing her special qualities, her short life lived to its fullest, promotes her legacy, and gives us comfort. Thank you.

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