How Do you Show Love to Lost Loved Ones! The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Advice to a Holocaust Survivor. 

A colleague retells:

In March 2011, I visited London, and went on Shabbos pray at the St John’s Wood in the city.

Next to me in the shul sat an elderly gentleman who had bags of candies at his place. All the children were lining up in front of him to receive a candy. When each child approached him, the man would caress him/her, embrace them, kiss them and give them the candy. Throughout the entire service, the kids were coming to him for a kiss and a candy.

I asked him what inspired this weekly ritual?

And the man shared with me this story:

He survived the war, but lost his entire family—parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, everybody. Like so many other survivors he was a lone soul bereft of an entire family that went in the smoke of Hitler’s crematoriums. This man was devastated beyond words; a lonely man in a cold and dark world.

As so many other survivors, he did not want to marry. He was too broken and depressed. And he felt it was wrong to bring children into such a world, to subject them to the horrors he experienced. He was struck with too much grief and pain to rebuild his life. He loved his family too much to just move on.

Someone suggested he pay a visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was an address for many survivors, who came to pour out their soul and heart. This was in the early 1960’s.

He shared his story with the Rebbe and expressed his un-readiness to rebuild. He was just too angry, too sad.

This is what the Rebbe told him:

What links us to the Jews who have been murdered by the Germans? What links you to your father and mother, to your brothers and sisters, to your entire family that went up in the smoke of Nazi Germany—what is it that links you to them? What still remains of your connection to them?

It is one thing—the love. What is left today is only the love. They may be gone, but your love to them remains. That is your point of contact with them: the love you harbor in your heart to them.

So if you want to remain connected to them—it is through keeping your love toward them alive. And the best way to do that is by having our own children and giving them all the love in the world.

And the Rebbe said these words:

“And the more you will express your love, the more you will experience it inside; and the deeper your connection with slain family will grow.

So you must marry and have children and give them that only thing which remains from the victims—the love you have to them. And not only to your children, but to all children. Give them all the love. That way, you will hold on to your parents.

So the man says to Simon: Here I am, a zeide. I have children. I have grand children. And every child that passes my seat and my life, I give them all the love I can.

And that way I hold on to the love I have to my mother, and father, and my little brothers and sisters all gassed in the Nazi death camps.

Those little kinderlach in London would have never guessed what is going through this man’s precious and holy heart every time he gave them a lollipop. This was his yizkor. He loved his parents, he lived his love to them, by giving love.