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17 Elul 5765 - September 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Rebbetzin Mrs. Zipa Lopian a"h

by A. Gatesheader

How does one describe the vivid colors that emanate from the facets of a brilliant diamond? How does one portray the multi- faceted personality that was Rebbetzin Zipa Lopian? A close and long-standing friend echoed the feelings of so many when she said, "Whatever you write about Aunty Zipa will never be enough."

Zipa Levy was born in 1916, the eldest child of Reb Chaim Moshe Levy who, with his strong and yet refined character, managed to imbue all his children with a sincere and enduring ahavas Torah, even in the spiritual wilderness that was Portsmouth! He relied on her to teach the younger children Chumash whom he would farher every evening. When this writer asked one of the siblings what he remembers of those years, he said, "Zipa was full of sweetness and simchah." A true accolade when coming from a pupil.

In 1937 she married HaGaon Reb Leib Lopian, son of Reb Elya Lopian, and her father told her mother that under no circumstances was she to cry under the chuppah, as people may misconstrue her tears to mean that Zipa regretted marrying a ben Torah and that would be a chilul Hashem. Zipa's task, her father instructed her, was to make a kiddush Hashem of her life.

This she achieved almost immediately! A distinguished ben Torah brought his kallah to Portsmouth to show her how a young English girl had put on a sheitel. Zipa Lopian, with her panache, made it manifestly clear that there was not one iota of mesiras nefesh involved. Such was her upbringing! It was this chinuch that was the foundation of the home they established in Gateshead in 1942, when Reb Leib joined the Kollel.

She left her father's mansion in Petersfield, and arrived at 144 Prince Consort Road with 3 young children, but minus her husband who, being an alien, had not yet received permission to travel to a restricted area. The house had gas lighting and the cooking had to be done on a coal fire! To cap it all, Reb Dovid Dryan turned up at the door with a roll of linoleum, asked for a bread knife, and proceeded to lay the lino in the hallway.

It was at this point that she began to feel somewhat despondent, but she quickly checked herself, saying, "There are so many people worse off than you. Don't you dare complain!"

And she didn't, as her brother Reb Binyomin Levy recalls, "I lived in their home for two years in the late 40s, and Zipa was always happy, and never complained."

When there was a scarcity of food, she used her ingenuity to hide this from the children so that they should not equate Torah with poverty.

She often said that Reb Elya had told her that a wife holds her husband's neshomoh in the palm of her hand. With this in mind, she relieved her husband of all financial responsibilities and attended to all the household needs, so that he could dedicate himself to his learning and his shiurim. She saw this as a great privilege and used every opportunity to endear and connect the children to Reb Leib by showing them what a zchus it was to have a father who was such an outstanding talmid chochom.

As the children grew up, she remarked that she was grateful that she had more time for tefilloh, which greatly enhanced her life. When this writer asked her how she managed to daven with kavonoh at home — especially over Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur — she said, "When I stand at Reb Leib's shtender in the back room, the zchus of his Torah does it all for me."

She would also quote Reb Elya who said, "The posuk says, "Korove Hashem lechol koro'ov — Hashem is close to everyone who davens to Him." But there is one condition, "Lechol asher yikro'uhu be'emes — as long as you daven with sincerity." And I have so much to daven for, and so much to be thankful for, I have no problem meaning what I say."

There are generations of talmidim and talmidos who will always remember the warmth of the kitchen in number 30 and the table that was permanently laid for visitors. Her simchas hachaim was infectious, and she raised everyone's spirit, both young and old, bringing out the best in everybody. She had that rare quality of understanding human nature and used it to fulfill her father's wish: that she should always make a kiddush Hashem of her life. This writer often heard visiting parents remark as they were leaving her house, "I wish I could be like her!"

She was zocheh to see the nachas of her legacy living on in her children, who are all at the forefront of harbotzas haTorah in Klal Yisroel, while we are now left bereft of that beacon which illuminated our lives.

The most fitting epitaph is what one dear friend said, "A day does not pass without me thinking: `What would Aunty Zipa have said about this?' I wish she was here to show me the way!"

Yehi zichroh boruch.

It is fitting that during the sheloshim, the memorial fund that was instituted in memory of her late husband Reb Leib Lopian zt"l has now been extended to include herself, so that it is now known as the Reb Leib and Rebbetzin Zipa Lopian Memorial Fund. Contributions to this worthy cause should be addressed to:

Dayan G. Lopian, 46 Manor Park Gardens, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 7NA


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