Baltimore, MD - May 9, 2017 - This Monday night and Tuesday is Shaya's 3rd yahrtzeit.  If everyone would take a little time out of their day to do something in his memory, it would bring an aliyah to his Neshama.  You can also share thoughts and memories of Shaya with his family.  Please email  Thank you and may Shaya's Neshama have an aliyah.

Below is just one of many memories:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gross and Family,

Three years ago to the day, I stayed home from school. I woke up at my normal time but I had the overpowering feeling that something wasn’t right. I couldn’t describe it.  I told my mother that I wasn’t feeling well and she said I could take the first half of the day off. An hour later I heard my mother answer her phone. After listening intently she blurted out, “What happened to Shaya?” and then upon realizing I was listening she ran out of the room. A cold chill ran through me. My imagination took hold: Shaya broke his arm, Shaya got sick, Shaya got in a car accident - the thoughts grew worse and worse, but I never imagined what had really happened. Shaya was always there; why shouldn’t he be there now?

When my mother came back into the room her face was pale and drawn back.  She looked me in the eyes for several moments. Although I braced myself for the worst, but still, when she told me what happened, I was frozen in shock. How could this be true? How could Shaya be gone? He was there yesterday. He couldn’t be gone.  Then my mother reached across and hugged me, and only then did I know it was true and tears began to fall. My dear chavrusa was gone.

I don’t remember how long I cried, but I remember that when my father came home, I cried all over again. Then when my sister game home I cried again. I couldn’t put what I lost into words. I couldn’t fill the void that was inside me.

I didn’t want to attend the leviah; I didn’t want to face the truth; I wanted to hide forever. Of course, I went anyway, and I heard what the Rabbonim said, what the family said and I was shocked that I didn’t  know about the impact he had on so many people or the suffering he had faced. When I learned with him, he never spoke of it, so I never knew the hero that he was. He was there for me, fully. He taught me with love and patience, like no else has.

I remember the way he would teach me, and the way he would correct me when I made a mistake. I remember the time it was snowing and I could see all my friends playing in the yard. I wanted to go out so badly that I was hardly paying attention to the gemara that I was reading; I’m sure I botched it totally because in his patient but demanding way, he made me read it over and I botched it again, then he looked up at me with his kind eyes and told me, “Let’s do the gemara one more time. Then you can join them,” and somehow, because of the way he said it, he drew my attention back to the gemara and I nailed it.

I remember the way he smiled after the last time we learned, the time when we finished Megillah for the second time. He turned to me as he was leaving Toras Chaim. He looked me in the eyes and gave me his smile and said goodbye. Then the door closed and I never saw him again.

When he taught me Torah, he taught it so clearly and so patiently that it is still deep inside my head. This year when we learned the third perek of Baba Kama at yeshiva, the sugyas were rolling off my tongue five years after I learned them with him. When I hear a Gemara Megilla, I see it in my head clearly. I still remember many of the ideas he said about the parsha. The ideas of mussar and self-growth he gave to me are still a driving force in who I am and how I grow. But most importantly he gave me a taste of the sweetness of Torah, the sweetness that can only be reached through the understanding that chazara can give. It was in desire of that sweet taste that I came to yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel this year, and Baruch Hashem I have had many ‘sweet fruits’ to enjoy.

I got the text from my sister that it was Shaya’s Yahrtzeit after shacharis today. I had just opened my gemera to chazar yesterday’s sugya. As I read the text I felt the emotions well up inside me. I began recalling the memories of Shaya, and the life-changing impact he had on me, and the next thing I knew tears were rolling freely down my cheeks. I held my head in my hands and began to sob. I don’t know how long it was, but at some point the thought occurred to me that I should learn in his zechus. I kept my hands in such a way that all I could see was the gemara in front of me, and I began reading the  sugya of Tarah Ve’shasya. I read it again, and again, and again, Gemara, Rashi, Tosfos, the entire time tears were pouring down my cheeks and arms and falling onto my gemara and the table, but I didn’t notice them, I read the sugya again and again while thoughts and memories of Shaya poured into my head. It was the sweetest, most powerful Torah I have ever learned.   

There is no one in the world I would have rather had as a Rebbe and a role model.


Baruch Taffel