My grandmother, Chaya Rochman, passed away in June 2016 after a three-year battle with a deadly disease. It was hard to imagine life without her. She had been the family’s matriarch and role model for decades, devoting herself to Tehillim, saying the entire sefer every day. And more than anyone else we knew, she exemplified the answer to the question “Tzipisa l’yeshuah?”
As far back as we could remember, Bubby waited for Mashiach. But not the vaguely hopeful way most of us wait. No, she waited for Mashiach with the anticipation and purity of a preschool child waiting for Mommy at the classroom door. When we grandchildren called in the mornings, the conversation would begin with “By the end of today, we may all be in Yerushalayim!” If we called in the evenings, she would sigh, “Oy, Mashiach didn’t come today. When is he coming?” Though our family is not affiliated with Chabad, her eagerness for the days of geulah showed us that yearning for redemption is not limited to any segment of the Jewish people.
Her wait went back a long way. My grandmother and grandfather had met and married in 1950. Upon their engagement, my grandfather presented his kallah with a beautiful gold bracelet. It appeared in the engagement pictures, but never again after that. We never saw her wearing it.
“Bubby, why don’t you ever wear the bracelet Zeidy bought you?” my sisters would ask. She would simply shrug, silent on the question.
When she refused to answer, we privately assumed that something had happened to it. Had she broken it but didn’t want to admit it? That was so unlike her. Was it lost? Had it been stolen? Had she pawned it during the harder years?
But then she was nifteres, the mystery still unsolved.
During the shiva, my sisters started to clean out the house, sad but necessary now that nobody lived there. They slowly worked their way up starting from the kitchen, laughing and crying at the shared memories in every cabinet and on every shelf. In the master bedroom, one sister began clearing Bubby’s clothing from the closet, while another began emptying the dresser drawers.
In the back of the empty closet, they found a bag embroidered with the logo of a once-popular jewelry store. The bracelet was inside, still on its velvet bed and shiny as the day it had been bought. Tucked in beside it was a handwritten note, dated August 11, 2013—the day my grandmother had received her diagnosis.
“I received this bracelet from my chasan when we got engaged and it means very much to me. Because it is so precious to me, I decided to set it aside to donate to the Beis Hamikdash, when it is rebuilt, may it be soon.”
In her will, the note was repeated. And while she gave us directives as to the distribution of some other possessions—family heirlooms and some items with sentimental value—her instructions for the bracelet were clear: no one was to wear it. She had set aside for the Beis Hamikdash, and it would wait until then.
Sadly, she never got the chance to bring it to its intended home. And so far, neither have we. But thanks to her example, we yearn for the day that we will.