My father, Yehudah Leib ben Binyomin Shap Hakohen, was born
on 4 Iyar in Vilna, one hundred years ago. He was niftar
and buried in Cape Town on the 19th of Iyar, 30 years ago
and was reburied at Har Menuchot in Ir Hakodesh on the
12th of Iyar, 10 years ago.
My father came to South Africa with his father at the age of
eleven. They settled in the Eastern Cape where my Zeida
became a trader on a small trading station called Ngwenya. At
a very young age my Father joined him in the business and
when he married my mother, they bought a trading store in the
village Debe Nek where they worked until 1957, when they
moved to Cape Town.
My mother passed on 10 years ago and, as she left a codicil
to her will that she wished to be buried in Israel, my
husband, brothers and I accompanied her to Israel for her
burial on 26th Cheshvan.
Prior to our leaving Johannesburg on the motzei Shabbos,
Rav Pfeuffer zt"l visited me and asked where my
father was buried. When I told him that he had been buried in
Cape Town 19 years previously, he said, "You are not
chayav, but should move your father to Eretz
While sitting shiva at my daughter's house in Har Nof
I told my brothers what the rov had said and both instantly
agreed. The necessary arrangements were made. However, the
Chevra Kadisha in Cape Town could not give us a date, but
they said it would be before the following Pesach.
The week before Pesach they phoned to say that it was not
possible as they had six funerals that week and they would
exhume my father after Pesach. They also asked if we would
mind "to have the remains placed in a child's coffin." I was
aghast, but I said to myself, "Hashem please don't let it be
After Pesach we were told that my father had been exhumed and
that his remains would be flown to Israel. My daughter and
son-in-law went to the reburial. They said that initially it
was quiet, but suddenly they heard the members of the Chevra
Kadisha, "Er iz a tzaddik! Er is beshleimus! Hitzach der
My daughter said to her husband, "Go and see what is
happening." When I asked him what he had seen, he replied
"Mom, I have a weak stomach, but I thought they were finished
and when I looked they were changing his tachrichim
and he looked like the picture on your wall."
I phoned Rav Pfeuffer immediately and he told me that it says
in gemora Shabbos that if someone does not get angry,
the worms will not eat him. My Father was a very gentle
person who did not get angry.
My father was a very honest man. When the black people would
come to the shop to sell their wool or birdseed he would be
very makpid about the weights with which he measured
their produce. He would pay the right price but was sure to
see that the scale was correct. When selling them goods he
was just as makpid and would rather give the customer
the benefit of a little more goods.
I have a beautiful letter from Dreyfus Fichla, a black
teacher, in which he testifies to my father's honesty and
He was a very honest man and he honored friendship not with
whites only but with black people as well. He studied the
needs of his customers and extended great sympathy to each
and every customer. He was an honest dealer, and very
courteous indeed. He used to say "friendship is more than
money." He would say that he would rather lose money than
lose a friend. He believed that if he had no friends he was a
poor man but if he had many friends he was a rich man.
When selling articles to a customer he would never sell what
he knew was not quite genuine even if the customer thought it
was good. He never sued his customers - oh not once! During
World War II we would sit in his lounge listening to the
radio news about the war. That was the only European home
where we could do such a thing. I never saw him angry and
saying bad words to anyone.
I later spoke to Rav Frand about my father and the way he was
found, and told him about my father's life. Rabbi Frand
turned to me and said, "I am not a chossid but I would
like to show you something. He fetched a Chumash and
read out the posuk : "Even sheleimoh votzedek -- A
perfect and honest weight shall you have, a perfect and
honest measure shall you have, so that your days shall be
lengthened on the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you"
(Ki Seitzei 25 :15).
The family was in Israel for my niece's wedding that year and
we unveiled the tombstones of my parents. The parsha
that week was Ki Seitzei. May Yehudah Leib ben
Binyomin Hakohen's neshomoh have an aliya and
may he daven on High for Sholom for kol Yisrael
until the coming of Moshiach, soon in our time.