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‘You were like a father to me’

In an open letter, the California rabbi said Raleigh Resnick turns to rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky AH, and thanked him for the care that came from his generous spirit, vibrant personality, charisma, kind heart and his devotion to the Rebbe.

In a personal letter addressed to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, shliach in Tri-Valley, CA, Rabbi said Raleigh Resnick shares his gratitude for all the warmth and care, and makes a request for when Rabbi Kotlarsky reports to headquarters on high.


Dear Rabbi Kotlarsky ז”ל,

I am not one to publicly express personal feelings and reflections, but as I sit here on the plane returning home from your funeral, I search for an appropriate expression for my overcrowded mind and heart.

I hope that these words that “the living may take to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2) can serve this purpose and bring עליה (elevation) into your soul.

As someone who grew up in your home (my Bar Mitzvah reception took place in your dining room), much of what I am today is a reflection of the education I received from you and your wife – may she live and be well, up to 120 years. .

The most striking thing for me as a child was your disregard for personal wealth and luxury. For most of my childhood and early adulthood, your home was literally an enduring wonder (if you were there, you know I’m not exaggerating). The contrast of your humble home on its last legs with its rich, bountiful hospitality and warmth was one of the beauties of life.

Even when you redecorated your house, the paint barely had time to dry before it became a shuffleboard and an open house for an endless stream of guests – Jewish world leaders, influential personalities and simpletons.

For example, you and your family have taught me to accommodate as many people as your home can accommodate (perhaps more than that) and to feed your guests kindly and generously, regardless of the cost, time, or energy.

And your office? The office of Chabad’s global ambassador and one of the world’s most influential Jewish figures? An unimposing room, faded carpet and meager shelves; not a room that echoed status and authority.

If fellow luchims asked me how to get a hold of you, I’d share your cell number. Their confusion was always the same: “You mean he just gives his cell number, I call, and he answers?!”

You also taught me the value of sharing in the joy of others. You made it your business to be present at personal simchas and you sincerely appreciated others who came to share in your joy. Just a few months ago, as your illness raged and your body weakened, you flew to Northern California to be at our son’s bris (a visit we will always cherish).

When my father became ill at a young age, you became a father figure to our family. You convinced me to start dating and guided me through my wedding and marriage. Thanks to your efforts, my father met Fruma and took me to the chuppah (he died two months later).

You showed me what pastoral care looks like: being at my father’s bedside every hospital stay, forgoing conferences and events just to be there for our family, and being an anchor for my mother and my brothers and sisters. You took charge after my father’s death and held our hands for the past twenty years.

But why? Why did you take our family, Shluchim’s family and countless others under your wing?

Yes, it was your generous spirit, bubbly personality, charisma and good heart. But it was more than that. Your motivation was the greatest legacy and lesson you leave for me.

You did it because of your passionate devotion to your Rebbe. In our case, my father treated the Rebbe as his doctor. And you – a devotee of the Rebbe – would repay that care to my father and our family.

Your life’s work has included navigating complex and delicate situations, developing relationships for Chabad, and raising megadollars. But when it came to the Rebbe, there were no nuances, compromises, hesitations or relaxations. There was just: These are the Rebbe’s marching orders. My job is to give him satisfaction and fulfill the shlichus (mission).

That is what motivated you to care for me, to care for the shluchim, to pour your heart and soul into the kinus, and to be the vehicle through which the Rebbe’s expansive vision has come to fruition around the world .

Looking at you, a father figure to me, who suffered from the same illness as my own father, made the bitterness of exile more palpable in recent months.

When I visited you in the hospital two weeks ago on my father’s 20th yahrtzeit and shared some successes in our shlichus, you mustered the strength to give me those big encouraging “thumbs up” to keep going. Yes, as you asked for shluchim from us in your will, I will, please G-d, increase my efforts to fulfill my shlichus and saturate the world with more mitzvahs.

And we ask you Rabbi Kotlarsky; as you ascend to the top and report to headquarters; as you reunite with our dear Rebbe, please pound on the doors of the heavenly chambers with all your might and plead with Almighty God to end this long, bitter exile once and for all; put an end to all pain and suffering; and reunite us all here on this earth again with משיח צדקנו and the final redemption.

With eternal thanks and sincere gratitude,

Raleigh Resnick

You can be part of perpetuating Rabbi Kotlarsky’s legacy here:

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