Sunday, April 30, 2017

I Need Lunch

Rabbi Eisenman

Dariush Massachi — an unassuming Persian Jew — was born in Shiraz in 1926. At the time, Shiraz had a strong Jewish community and Jews enjoyed economic and religious freedom.

In 1951, Dariush was introduced to Pari Zahabian, his future wife.

Pari came from a family of goldsmiths. In fact, her last name, Zahabian, meant goldsmith. And although she was only 15, her parents were interested in finding her a frum and stable husband — and Dariush fit the mold.

They married and over the next 20 years were blessed with eight children. Dariush worked hard as a goldsmith and with the help of Hashem was able to provide for his family.

Everything changed with the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

As he spoke only Farsi, and was trained only as a goldsmith, Dariush was hesitant to move his family from Shiraz. But finally, in the early 1990s, Dariush realized that there was no future for his family in Iran. The ability to freely practice Judaism was worth more than all the gold in the world to Dariush.

So in early 1991, Dariush liquidated all of his assets. And then, in the total darkness of a moonless night, Dariush and his family climbed into an unmarked station wagon and, after paying off many officials, crossed the border into Turkey and from there made their way to the United States. They settled in New Jersey and went about raising a Torah family.

Dariush was 65 years old when he fled Iran. In America he spent a good part of his day learning Torah and he was thrilled to be able to guarantee his children an authentic Jewish life. Pari mastered English and eventually became a medical assistant.

Two weeks ago, Dariush, already past his 91st birthday, was required to undergo a serious medical procedure in the hospital.

Due to his age, the procedure required full anesthesia, and the family was worried about their revered husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

On the day of the procedure, the family sat in the waiting room saying Tehillim. More remarkably, without ever discussing it with each other or with Dariush, every single one of them — including 81-year-old Pari — independently decided to fast and daven until they knew all was well.

The procedure began early in the morning. Finally, in the afternoon, Dariush was wheeled out of the OR and into recovery. As soon as he woke up, Dariush attempted to communicate with the nurse.

In his semiconscious state, and with his broken English, the nurse was having trouble understanding him.

Listening carefully, she heard him say, “Lunch, I need lunch.”

The nurse could not understand why this man who had just undergone a procedure and was still groggy would be thinking of lunch; wouldn’t he want to see his family first?

“I’m sorry, Mr. Massachi, but you are not permitted to eat for another six hours.”

Again Dariush insisted, “Lunch, please, bring me lunch.”

As the nurse began to explain again, Dariush noticed his wife had entered the recovery room.

“Lunch, please bring my wife lunch… she has not eaten the whole day…”

“How do you know your wife hasn’t eaten?”

Dariush looked at his wife before answering the nurse’s question, and he thought about the almost 70 years they’d lived together and all the hardships endured together.

Then he quietly responded, “When you have loved and lived with someone as long as I have, you just know… words are no longer needed. She has not eaten. Please bring her lunch.”

As Pari gazed at her husband, the nurse went to get the meal.

Dariush was right. No more words were needed.