Dancing Into Gan Eden: Yiddy Landau, z”l

Yiddy Landau, z”l, helping an old man cross the street. A last photo.
Yiddy Landau, z”l, helping an old man cross the street. A last photo.

“The thing we need to remember is that Yiddy was a pure neshamah. He went to be mesamei’ach at a chasunah and he danced into Gan Eden.”

Yiddy Landau’s aunt, tbl”c, added another telling point: A friend took two photos of Yiddy outside the Continental hall in Williamsburg, where he later collapsed. The photos are fuzzy. But one thing is absolutely clear: in his last minutes, Yiddy, a big smile on his face, was walking — his arm intertwined with the arms of a bent-over old man — as he helped him cross the street.

“That was my nephew. An old man needed help, and Yiddy was there to do it.” Yiddy would also put smiles on the faces of sick children and elderly patients — organizing kumzitzes for Mekimi Organization and Chai Lifeline. He was constantly involved in chessed.

Contrary to earlier reports, family sources informed Hamodia that Yiddy was 18 years old, not 19, and the fourth of five children, ybl”c, not the third of four. More important, Yiddy was not on any medication at the time of his petirah. Nor was he being treated for any medical condition. His petirah was as incomprehensible as it was sudden.

People came to the shivah to give chizuk. But they got more than they came to give. Yiddy’s father, Ari Landau, ybl”c, said he is mekabel b’ahavah this decision from Hashem. As his brother put it, “We were given a present for 18 years.”

Yiddy learned in Yeshiva Noam HaTorah in Lakewood, under the Roshei Yeshivah, shlita, Harav Bezalel Goldstein and Harav Yosef Gelbwachs. Harav Goldstein painted a picture of Yiddy that fits perfectly with the smiling bachur helping an old man. At the chasunah, when Yiddy wasn’t dancing, he was on the phone, calling the yeshivah to make arrangements for other bachurim, to make sure everyone had arrangements for the Shabbos meals. “That was on his mind when he was at a chasunah in New York — that bachurim should have meals for Shabbos.”

Yiddy’s chessed and ahavas Yisrael were rooted in his ahavas haTorah. And that was rooted in his family’s deep commitment to Torah as the ikar. His role model was the tzaddik whose name he carried with pride — the Klausenburger Rebbe, zt”l, Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam.

The walls of Yiddy’s room were decorated with pictures of the Rebbe, zt”l. When he learned Chumash, Yiddy would constantly be mechaven to kushyos from the Ohr Hachaim — a sefer often quoted by the Rebbe.

Harav Goldstein adds that Yiddy enjoyed debating in learning. “When Yiddy said a sevarah, his face lit up. I would learn with him first seder, and when he had a good kushya, that was worth everything to him. A good vort made his face light up…. Yiddy always had a twinkle in his eye. He had tremendous chein. He was always happy and his smile brought out the gutzkeit in everybody who met him.”

Like his namesake, Yiddy had great hislahavus during davening. He would sing out Yehei Shmei Rabba loudly, with deep feeling.

What stays in people’s minds is the twinkle in Yiddy’s eyes. “When you saw it, it made you smile. He was more than just a happy person. His [happiness] made everyone smile.”

He was also extremely dedicated to kibbud av va’eim. He called his parents every day. And, while his friends were traveling around, having a great time, Yiddy decided that this year he wanted to spend Purim with his family, ybl”c. He wanted to have his mother’s cooking and enjoy his family.

A friend of Yiddy says that Yiddy was very responsible about being at seder every single day, and he always had a smile on his face.

“Usually when someone is niftar, his friends are left with some feeling of guilt of something they did or should have done,” the friend said. But, he continued,  Yiddy left them all feeling no guilt — just a terrible sense of loss.

Yehi zichro baruch.

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