A Tribute to Mort Ruderman a’h

A tribute to Mr. Mort Ruderman upon the conclusion of the Shloshim peroid from his passing

Much has been said about the accomplishments of our dear friend Mort Ruderman, of blessed memory. I’d like to write about a dimension of his accomplishments that have, and have not yet been realized.

Every day in the morning service we describe the Almighty as “ Zoraiah (the one who plants) Tzedakot (righteous acts )”. The Midrash interprets this description as “the one who plants acts of Tzedaka (charity)”. It explains with the following story: Someone once deposited by the Talmudic sage named Rabbi Pinchos ben Yair two se’ah (a small dry measure from Talmudic times) of grain for safekeeping for six months. Six months passed and the owner didn’t return to claim his grain. Instead of letting the grain sit and rot away, the sage, who was not a farmer, plowed his land  and planted the grain. The grain produced a bumper crop but by the time the harvest arrived the original owner of the grain had still not returned. So the sage harvested the grain, threshed it, and stored it away.

The next planting season arrived with no sign of the owner’s return. The sage decided to plant the grain again but this time his property was too small for all the grain that grew the previous year. He rented a large field and planted. So much grain grew that he couldn’t handle it all himself, so he hired workers to harvest and store the produce.

This continued for six years until one day the original owner of the grain showed up and asked, “Whatever happened to the grain I left with you?” The sage took him out to the silos filled with grain and said to him, ”This is what happened to your grain! It’s all yours!”

The original small measures of grain in the story represent an act of Tzedaka. All the new grain that grew from the first grain represent everything positive that results from our original act. Just as the new grain automatically belonged to the owner without any effort on his part because it was produced from his original grain, so too all the positive results  produced because of our original act are automatically credited to us.

Say you give (or even lend) someone money and you put them on their feet; not only are you credited with a mitzvah for the money you gave but also for anything positive that results from what you did. All the positive things that will take place by the recipient, his children, his grandchildren and anyone they affect that came about as a result of your act  are all credited to you.

During our lifetime we can catch a glimpse of this. Ultimately we will be shown the silos of merits that are the results of our deeds. This rings so true for someone like Mort who supported, in such a significant way, causes that truly affect the lives of Jewish generations.

A Jewish education molds a child’s entire life, which in turn will affect the future of the Jewish people. The eternal results of a Jewish day school education that Mort so generously supported are credited to him!

I’d like to quote the vision statement of Gateways: Access to Jewish Education: “To enable Jewish children with special educational needs to become successful participants in the Jewish community.” Every accomplishment that has been and will be made by these children as a result of  Mort’s passionate support of Jewish special education both here and in Israel, along with the special joy of these children and their families, is credited to him!

We at Congregation Beth Israel of Malden owe Mort a special debt of gratitude. It is because of him that we continue to thrive as a center of Jewish life and look forward to a bright future. Every prayer, every word of Torah study, every act of tzedaka, every mitzvah that emanates from Beth Israel is credited to him!

May his merits be a source of strength and comfort to his wife Marcia and their children who carry on his mission with the same passion as he did to build a bright future for the Jewish people.  May his memory be a source of blessing for us all.

Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Rabinowitz