Adapted From the Drashah of Harav David Ozeri, Mara d’Asra, Khal Yad Yosef

Harav Dovid Ozeri addresses the crowd at the asifah. (JDN/Avrami Berger)

I am a guest here, and Chazal tell us “Poschim b’kvod achsanya,” so I would like to speak about how this asifah, and the one held last night for ladies, came to be.

Last Sunday night we had an asifah in Flatbush. After I left, I got a call telling me that someone wanted to speak to me about a donation for the family. I drove to Boro Park to meet this person at his office. It was already close to midnight and the street was dark. To tell you the truth I was frightened: I was on an empty street late at night and I had no idea who was coming to meet me.

Soon, a chassidishe Yid drove up — Shimmy Sprei, his name is — and he started telling me about his plan and that we have to do something big that can raise a lot of money for the Azans. He started telling me that we have to make asifot and get a lot of people involved. I was thinking to myself that he looked too young for all of this. I told him that it sounds like it would cost a lot of money, but he told me that it will not cost my community anything, that he and some other askanim would take care of it.

I must admit I left that meeting feeling a bit skeptical, but, Rabotai, look around you and you will see what one man who does something l’shem Shamayim can accomplish! I did not come knocking on your door, you came to our door. Last night, some 4,000 women were here. Thousands of women braved extreme cold to hear mussar and to help a cause l’shem Shamayim!

All of you have come to help a family from a different world, from Damascus, Syria, who almost none of you ever knew. We are a Syrian Sephardic community. This is a chassidishe community. We didn’t come knocking on your door. You came to us. Mi k’macha Yisrael.

Who is Yossi Azan?

Sefer Iyov begins with an explanation of Iyov as an “ish taam v’yashar, yirei Elokim v’sur mera.” We look now at Yossi Azan, an Iyov in our time. He is an adam chashuv, a mushlam who performs maaseh u’matan b’emunah. He is not part of the rat race. He is not interested in having what everybody else has. He is a real eved Hashem. Every day, for as long as anybody can remember, he has davened at the minyan vatikin. On Shabbat, his children are trained to get up early so that they can daven with him. After davening he would make Kiddush and spend time learning with them. He is a talmid chacham. All you ever heard was how much he cared about the chinuch of his children.

Many people know him from the store he worked in, but they know that he did not want to talk to them too much about the hat they were there to buy; he wanted to tell them divrei Torah.

Until a day ago he was on life support, hovering between life and death. Now, baruch Hashem, he and his daughter are off life support, but his son still needs a very big yeshuah. Today I went to the hospital and informed Yossi that only half of his mishpachah is left, and that his eishet chayil and two younger children are in the Olam Ha’emet. He already knew that his daughter and son were there in the hospital with him. His son Avraham, who was unhurt, came into the room then and as they each tried to be mechazek one another, you saw what real ahavah between a father and a son means.

When Harav Raful entered the room, Yossi tried to get out of bed to stand up for him. They all cried and said, “It’s a gezeirah that we have to accept.” It is something you never want to witness in your life, but it was real mussar.

Tonight, we are all here for Yossi and his mishpachah. Yossi Azan is a man who would look to do chessed. He is not a rich man, but he gave of his own time and of himself to help others. People would come to his store to tell him their problems and he would do what he could to help them. Now we have to help him.

There will be a need for many more surgeries and costs that insurance will not cover. Yossi will not be able to work for a year at least, and it is up to us to take care of his children.

I was just told a little while ago that there are some 3,000 people here tonight. I thought that I understood the meaning of kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh, but now I feel that for the first time I have truly seen what it means. No one could believe that Boro Park stepped in to help our community in the way that you have. Thank you all for coming, thank you Shimmy Sprei, and thank you to all of the askanim who made this true knessiah l’Shem Shamayim happen.