Rav Asher Weiss shlit”a made a strikingly emotional statement to the public this week, on behalf of a close anonymous talmid who for the remainder of the article will be referred to as ‘Rav Cohen.’
Cohen is beloved, known for his greatness in both Torah learning and chesed. His private life, however, is tragic. The family’s downward spiral began some twenty years ago, when complicated recovery from a motorcycle accident forced him to close his business. This began a cycle of poverty for the young couple and their 7 children.
Despite their extreme level of lack, however, the family managed to live happily in simplicity. That is, until a phone call during their daughter’s sheva brachos sent their lives on a spiral once again: Mrs. Cohen was diagnosed with cancer. For a year she bravely fought the disease. The family’s debt increased. Her husband and children breathed a sigh of relief when she entered remission, only to be shocked by another twist: Rabbi Cohen was now diagnosed with cancer as well. The Rabbi also managed to survive his illness.
Today, after the multiple blows of the car accident, illness, debt, and marrying off three children, the choshuve family of known baalei chesed struggle to put food on the table. Mrs. Cohen is a doctor, and works long hours in an attempt to chip away at their debt. With a daughter hoping to get married soon, and nothing to give to her, they have reached rock bottom.
Rav Asher Weiss has released a video on behalf of the Cohen family, with many particular powerful points. The Rav describes Cohen as a “wonderful person” in a “horrible financial situation.”
“They tried every possible way to support themselves: they live simply and buy only the most basic necessities,” the Rav says, addressing the camera, “They sold their house. Yet still a heavy financial burden hangs over them.
Therefore, I am turning to people of chesed, and to everyone whoever they may be, It is a great and powerful mitzvah to save a precious person, and to save a family.”
Donations go toward rent, basic groceries, and marrying off the Cohen daughter, who has known nothing but poverty and has lived through the fear of losing a parent more than once. Those who contribute receive Rav Weiss’s bracha “that G-d will fulfill his dreams in the best way with only health, abundance, nachas and happiness all their days.”