It is only through relieving and reliving the memories of Nosson’s exuberant life that I can find any source of relief from the anguish that gnaws at my heart.
The first time I saw Nosson was on a sunny morning at the beginning of Ellul 5768. I had arrived on Thursday night in LA, Cailifornia for my first Zman as a Shliach in the Zal of Yeshivas Ohr Elchonon Chabad. Out of eleven Shluchim, my Chavrusah and I where the only ones to have been sent from Yeshivas Toimichei Temimim in Morristown, the other nine Shluchim had been sent from Yeshivas Oholei Torah in Crown heights. I knew only one of them personally, and the others by name alone.
On that Sunday morning, my Chavrusah and I sat together at a table on the far side of the otherwise empty Zal, awaiting the arrival of the rest of the group. They had all traveled together from New York, but Nosson was the first one through the door. Before the doors even opened, his imminent entry was announced by his energetic rendition of a lebediker Nigun Simchah. When he appeared in person, he was waving his arms with gusto and his ear to ear smile seemed to fill the whole Zal. His unabashed happiness was contagious, and though I did not yet know him well enough to match name to face, I could not contain the reciprocal grin which spontaneously spread across my own countenance.
To a great degree, Nosson’s smile defined – not only his personality as an individual, but – the entire year that we spent together. He possessed an innate shainkeit, a charm, which endeared him to everyone who came his way. Nosson’s very presence created an atmosphere of comfortable relaxation and if ever a tense situation arose he would be sure to pull some hilarious stunt that would evaporate any pressure or ill-feeling into smiles and laughter.
Every memory that I have of Nosson is filled with happiness and arouses an irrepressible smile, making the pain of his untimely loss all the more acute. I remember how on Lag B’Omer 5769, exactly one year before the tragedy that so bleakly tore him from us, we drove back to Yeshivah from Malibu together. Nosson drove and I sat beside him in the front passenger seat. As we cruised down the highway, Nosson began to sing the yechidus nigun of Reb Shlome Shashniker. I and some of the other passengers joined in, but none of us could compete with Nosson’s unbridled enthusiasm. His passionate song effectively expressed the pure chassidishkeit, the inner joy and the deep sensitivity, which filled his generous heart.
Nosson’s smiling presence will forever remain with me, as a void that can never be filled.