Monday, November 21, 2011

Rebbetzin Bassie Azimov ע"ה - an appreciation

(L-R; R' Bentzion Shemtov, Rebbetzin Bassie, o"h and יבלחט"א her husband R' Shmuel (מולע) Azimov

Received via e-mail: "On an August Paris afternoon, a troubled young man rang the bell of  Rebbetzin Bassie Azimov. He had met her two years before in New York, but how things have changed.  They were cousins but he could not recall how. He had fallen in with a hard crowd but had finally willed his way to 28 Rue de Vinaigriers."Who are you?" from the French window on the second floor.  "Ari Brisk," was the answer. "Who are you?" she asked again, looking at me. "What happened to you?" Two minutes later she opened the front door, admonishing him while inviting him upstairs. Rabbi Mulle (Shmuel) Azimov was on the phone but the harsh words did not stop. To Ari's dismay, she had drawn a bath, placed all his clothes from the dirty knapsack to wash, and was cooking a meal fit for a king- all this with harsh words, but softened by the smell of fried shnitzel. Events took a turn for the good.Years later he'd recall this parodox- it stayed with him.

He is not the only one; there are hundreds, perhaps more.

The Jewish revolution of Paris which she spearheaded with her husband was to the curious eye a wonder, yet there were reasons. She lead her life not in the shadow of what her father, the inimitable chosid R' Bentche Shemtov, had gone through, but as the embodiment of mesiras nefesh for the Rebbe's mission with dignity at every moment. Her favorite story of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka being the long walk across Paris "in the cold winter" she'd emphasize, describing the trek for milk and butter for the Rebbe in pre-War Paris.From five thirty in the morning until one o'clock the next, every day, she taught, lectured Principal a school, guided couples, suggested shidduchim, cooked, and all this while studying chassidus every day, sichos, one after the other. Long before igros bibliomancy, she'd approach a problem through a sicha, "the sicha always brings a solution." Their house was simply a sanctuary for the light of the Rebbe's chassidusת and that luminescence has lit many. I resided there for several months years ago, always considered her greatly, but her light as a chosid was beyond greatness, her family and the many who knew her now see...

I'd say it was her total bittul to the Rebbe which allowed her to saunter from an elevated perch, and touching others, allowing chassidus to flow through her for there was nothing else.She referred to the Rebbe as "dem Rebben" not der Rebbe, implying a belonging of chosid to Rebbe. The Rebbe was familiar and available but more important was the urgency of the Rebbe's call. There was work to be done, and, arguably, no shluchim have done that work as the Azimovs. I once ate at their Shabbos table when a guest, new to traditional Judaism, began asking questions about feminism and Judaism when Bassie interrupted her with a very strong lecture about the state of women today in light of promiscuity in modern culture. I felt embarrassed for the woman; Bassie was being too strong. To my astonishment the woman became a full ba'alas tshuveh, within a few months. She was persistent and more importantly lived the Rebbe's truth in heroic fashion, all this  with a life threatening illness that she harbored for years.The involvement of the Rebbe during her trying sickness, entailed daily updates and guidance. For years she ate butter and told me that when she was unable to digest food, the Rebbe had recommended butter, and it had been the only food which she had been able to digest the following years. Bassie never for a moment compromised. Perhaps therein is the secret, how one is imbued with that special spirit to be an infinite chosid of "dem Rebben."

Ad kan the email.

HT says: Rebbetzin Bassie Azimov passed away in Paris last week at the age of 67. She was the daughter of the Chossid Reb Bentzion Shemtov of London and the wife of Reb Shmuel (Mulle) Azimov, shliach to Paris. She and her husband were responsible for the tremendous "revolution" of Yiddishkeit in Paris that goes on until today. What has been accomplished in France hasn't happened anywhere else in the world. Hundreds upon hundreds, if not thonsands of families that lead complete Torah lives. Some thrird generation already. All were introduced to Yiddishkeit by Reb Mulle and his Rebbetzin. The love and respect, and even reverence that people who came in contact with the Azimovs have for them is nothing short of amazing. All their mushpoyim and mekurovim are like their own children, and at the levaya they cried as if their own mother had passed away. No matter where you stand on the Chabad politics you respected Mulle and his wife because they demanded respect. Not they demanded it, it was their work and accomplishments that demanded it for them. They themselves asked for nothing. When you saw that she had passed away you were saddened, because you knew that there is nobody that can replace her. You also cried for her husband, a tzubrochene man physically, who suffered a stroke some years ago, and who now suffers so much more upon his mate. May the Eybershter give him lange, gezunte yohren, and may their children know only joy and happiness מכאן ולהבא עד עולם


yakov said...

Hirshel, she was not husband of reb Shmuel but his wife, please check your last paragraph

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

thanks, Yakov

Shmuel said...

On one of her visits to NY, the Rebitzen told her "meer (my husband and I)hoben ge'akert un geziet, un eer zhen dee peiros"

Just to think how many Chaim Hillel's there are in France boggles the mind.

Mken lernen! Mdarf zich lernen foon zie!

Anonymous said...

Y'hei zichroh baruch!

All i can see is that the author of that last paragraph (HT) is obviously not FROM france.

I've spoken to Frenchmen, and shall we say -its aint as rosy as you make it out to be, now i'm NOT talking about the deceased, vda"l.

"All were introduced to Yiddishkeit by Reb Mulle..."

Um, whaaat?? No, you can't be from France, i guess to put it in your words, you must be from one of those that are "their mushpoyim and mekurovim their own children"

I wouldn't elaborate at this delicate point in time, however i agree with most of what you write in the sense of "What has been accomplished in France hasn't happened anywhere else in the world. Hundreds upon hundreds, if not thonsands of families that lead complete Torah lives. Some thrird generation already"
As for the next sentence.... צ"ע.