By Sholly Cohen
Before I begin I just want to stress that with all the words in the world, I still could never fully express Nosson - portray who he was and what he stood for - no words would ever be enough. Nosson genuinely was one-of-a-kind. An exemplary bochur, an exceptional person, and a real friend. A true inspiration to us all.
Last year I began my first year of yeshivas Ohr Elchonon Chabad. After a week or so I was placed to learn with Nosson as my chavrusah for chassidus at night, from 8pm till 10pm.
As Nosson came over, sat across from me, and told me he was my chavrusah, that we would be learning those 2 hours at night together, at that moment, I barely began to realize what a precious jewel I had just stumbled upon. In the months that followed, I couldn’t help but open my eyes to the good fortune that had befallen me that day. Those 2 hours became a part of the day I would look forward to the entire day. Nosson taught me a lot in that time, and not just in chassidus; being with him that time really pressed its mark on me, and will always be greatly treasured.
Regardless of the fact that Nosson was officially titled as my learning partner, he was so much more. In times of need, Nosson would always be there with a helping hand, to help guide me when unsure of my path, to pick me up if I happened to fall. He was everything you could possibly ask for.
Over Chanukah, Nosson drove his black mivtzoim van, myself included, to a Chanukah party on one of the nights. So we pulled up at the car park of this indoor mall about an hour away from yeshiva; when we reached the party, it had reached a time that the party was supposed to be in a full swing, there was a guy playing guitar on the stage, whilst singing, and most of the people were sitting down on chairs, and no-one was dancing. Nosson’s self-call for action set in immediately, he didn’t need telling, and when I say action, I mean, within minutes, there were people spinning round in a circle, people singing, people laughing, and most importantly, someone spinning around several feet off the ground, sitting on Nosson’s shoulder, laughing beyond repair. This sticks out in my mind, simply because, it was so obvious to all, that the party was Nosson; Nosson’s arrival really was an injection of chayos into his surroundings.
One time this past year, I was in crown heights, and whenever I was there, I would always keep in very close contact with Nosson, usually speaking to him at least once a day. The night before my flight, I had told Nosson some time that day I would be awake all night till my flight, and he could call me anytime before my flight. At about 2am Nosson called me, after talking for a while, he told me to come to his house, where we then sat in his kitchen for hours just talking about everything, him listening to my every word, with his endless patience. He really cared.
One last story, one time Nosson flew into crown heights for a couple days, upon his arrival back at our first chassidus at night, he smiled at me, with that smile you can’t help but return a smile to, and said, “Sholly, it was amazing, the most unbelievable thing happened, I was on the plane on the way back to Los Angeles, once we were allowed to take off our seatbelts, so I got up with my tefillin, started asking people if they were jewish and had put tefillin on that day. Shortly after I began, I encountered a man who was jewish and after talking for a while with him, he put on tefillin; he had many questions and after talking some more with him, he became so inspired he practically jumped out of his seat, and joined in to help me.” There are not many people I know, if any, which have the ability to acquire a mivtzoim chavrusah several thousand feet in the air after just having put tefillin on that very guy, but Nosson was one of them.
This story, to me, really exemplifies what Nosson was all about, to him a flight wasn’t just a flight, it was a mission, and he was like that in all aspects of life, he was an outstanding soldier, in a mission to refine and purify the world, doing what the Rebbe demands, and through all our efforts we should merit to Moshiach NOW.
Nosson I miss you and will never forget you.