Chaim ben Avraham
Hy Skolnik added great goodness into G-d’s world. He brought love, at all times, in his contacts to everybody. The rabbis teach us in the Talmud to develop our goodness from the heart, for the heart is the instrument of connection. It is the mind that differentiates and separates and says “I am not you,” but it is the heart that finds kindred spirit always and everywhere. The heart empowers all the senses to bless. Hy’s good heart spoke the language of praise, initiated and intoned praise. His heart guided his eyes to always seek beauty in the world, and in us. It taught his ears to only hear the beautiful music in another person’s soul. Hy’s touch was delicate and tender with the lightness of air, coupled with the most gentle pressure.
Only one other person ever touched my cheek with his hand in a way that felt like a kiss, and that was my own father, when he blessed me, my tzaddik. Hy’s touch was natural and always life-affirming. Hy Skolnik is a tzaddik, a righteous lamed-vavnik who only ate from the tree of goodness. Who brought Gan Eden into Beth-El. Who loved with eternity’s embrace his beloved sweetheart, Ida, who danced his life with her so that their footprints formed a marvelous pas-de-deux. One soul, one whirl, always in motion, lockstep together, only inches apart. Hy loved his people, and his people’s people—that was his family. And that was him, forever on the lookout to do good for the world in their name.
One may wonder why we Jews emphasize a sweet year. Of all we might offer each other, why this? Why don’t we say “kind year” or “holy year”? We could name any number of notions that accompany goodness, yet we choose to consider sweetness as the principal effect of life. This is because sweetness is the most unique and exclusive part of everyone. Our individual sweetness cannot be replicated by another. G-d needs each of our sweetnesses actualized as His personal emissary. That’s why we were created.
And that’s what we symbolize with apples and honey on Rosh HaShanah: the honeybee’s first pollination is always the apple blossom. The insect world and plant worlds interact beginning nature’s life cycle, combining unique gifts to produce an inimitable sweetness. This Rosh HaShanah, Hy brought all his sweetness before the Heavenly throne. The best of us came before the Al-Mighty on Judgment Day itself. Hy was the first person from among us who was offered up to the next world this new year, 5777.
O Rachmana, Most Exalted Compassionate One, our beautiful world now misses a uniquely developed sweetness, but You, G-d, gain a true champion in Hy Skolnik’s heart and soul. Because he is Heaven’s purest, none of us will ever truly lose Chaim ben Avraham. His neshamah is a lighthouse G-d given to us all. Amen.