I wanted to tell you about a very special woman.
Rebitzen Gittel Kaplan passed away recently.
Her husband, Rabbi Nissan Kaplan, is one of the leading teachers of Torah in Jerusalem.
And she was an incredible woman!
Brilliant, warm and accepting.
And above all?
She had a heart, and a home, overflowing with love for all!
… After the Shiva, her husband shared this story.
It was three days before Gittel left this world.
Everything was shutting down.
Her liver wasn’t functioning. Her kidneys weren’t functioning.
She needed oxygen to assist her breathing.
Three daughters and a sister-in-law spent Shabbos with her.
Her daughters went to the hospital’s shul for Kabbalas Shabbos.
And while there?
They met a woman that they knew.
They asked her if she had a place to eat.
“I’m staying with my grandmother who is very sick. I brought along a sandwich”.
The Kaplan girls would have nothing of it!
“You shouldn’t have to eat by yourself.
Come join us for the Shabbos meal! We have more than enough food.
And our mother would be delighted to have a guest!”
… Family friends had sent over elegant and delicious Shabbos food.
And being that they were “proper Swiss people”?
Everything was beautifully arranged and clearly labeled.
One package was for Friday night.
With five blue plates. Five blue cups, forks, etc.
The other package?
Five yellow plates. Five yellow cups, forks, etc.
Being that they now had a guest? A sixth person?
They took a “yellow” set from the other package.
And what did Gittel Kaplan do?
A woman spending her last Shabbos with her beloved family?
Three days before she passed away?
“She looked up and said…
“Please give the guest the “blue plates”.
She should feel at home. She shouldn’t feel different!”
As I said before, she was so weak. Everything had shut down.
But one thing had not shut down.
Her warm sensitive heart!
And it focused on her guest!
Some people might say that Gittel taught us how to die.
I see it differently…
She taught us how to live!