Mrs. Nechama Naomi Perlman was a baalas chesed in the truest sense of the word
I don’t particularly enjoy flying.
I generally do not pay shivah visits to people sitting “out of town.”
But this time was special.
That’s why I decided to fly to Detroit to be menachem avel Ken Perlman over the loss of his wife, Nechama Naomi Perlman.
Mrs. Perlman was not a major benefactor of the shul, although, based on her limited means, she was certainly a baalas tzedakah of the highest degree. She consistently gave of herself and her resources when needed.
But there was no financial consideration in my decision to go, nor were there any familial ties. Certainly there was no expectation on the part of her husband or daughter that I would come from Passaic to Detroit.
The Perlmans had relocated to Detroit from Passaic more than six years before, and although we kept in touch by phone, I hadn’t seen them since they moved.
Yet I wanted to go. I especially wanted to be there for Ken. I knew that since he’d spent so much of the last few years caring for his wife, he hadn’t had the opportunity to cultivate a new cadre of friends in Detroit.
Mrs. Nechama Naomi Perlman was indeed a very special woman whose love, concern, and care for her children knew no bounds.
When one of her daughters was in an out-of-town school, she would write daily to her.
One day, the daughter called home and asked her father, “Is Mommy okay?”
Ken replied, “Yes, she’s fine. Why are you asking?”
His daughter responded, “I didn’t get Mommy’s letter today, and I know she sends me one daily.”
Two letters arrived the following day.
Nechama Naomi’s only son is presently saying chaburahs in a kollel. He would send his mother recordings of his chaburahs and Mrs. Perlman would listen attentively to the shiurim with the sense of pride and pleasure only a mother can have.
She may not have followed all the intricate lomdus of the high-level chaburahs, but that made no difference to her. She was shepping nachas of the highest order that a Jewish mother can. She was privileged to have a son disseminating Torah in the world, and there was no greater pleasure for her.
Mrs. Perlman was a baalas chesed in the truest sense of the word.
When flowers were needed for the shul for Shavuos, Mrs. Perlman personally made the beautiful arrangements. No matter the need, she was at the forefront of all important chesed endeavors.
Yet perhaps the trait that most impressed me about Mrs. Nechama Naomi Perlman was the shalom bayis she and her husband, Ken, shared.
Mrs. Perlman was one of the last practitioners of the time-honored Jewish tradition of dedication and total admiration for her spouse. She was a glimmer of hope in a sea of modern confusion.
As too many couples nowadays consider it outdated to be effusive in their praise and admiration of each other, Nechama Naomi Perlman was a sacred remnant of a too-often forgotten past.
Mrs. Perlman would ask me, “Why not let my husband daven on Rosh Hashanah? He has the most beautiful voice in the world.”
The fact that Ken had no interest in davening from the amud was irrelevant.
In Nechama Naomi Perlman’s world, her husband sang the best.
Even when I would meet them on the street, Ken would say, “Good Shabbos,” and Mrs. Pelrman would say, “My husband is always the first to greet everyone with a ‘Good Shabbos.’ ”
This alte heim mentality — often spoken about but not often seen in practice — was the catalyst for me to make the trip to Detroit to express my gratitude to this true eishes chayil.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 985)
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