Today is the yahrzeit [anniversary] of the death of Karen’s beloved father, Rabbi Philip Harris Singer, Pinchas Zvi. This is the speech our son-in-law delivered on 6/23/16 at the brit milah [circumcision ceremony] for our grandson who was named for Karen’s distinguished father.
Our son is named after Aliza’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Pinchas Zvi Singer, A”H. We feel that the timing is bashert [preordained], since Rabbi Singer’s 10th yarhrzeit is only 5 days from today and is being marked by a memorial in Israel.
I never met Rabbi Singer, but I have heard many stories of his expansive knowledge and astounding baekius [deep Torah knowledge]. He knew Tanach [Five Books of Moses] by heart, and was able to transmit the messages of Torah with erudition and wit.
On Friday afternoons, Rabbi Singer’s phone rang constantly as colleagues sought his counsel for their Shabbos sermons. Whatever the conversation, the words of Torah were punctuated by laughter as he joyously relayed his latest “vort” (Yiddish for original Torah insight).
Most children believe that their father knows everything, but as adults realize their perception was idealized. The reverse is true about Rabbi Singer’s children. As they became adults, his children appreciated the vastness of their father’s knowledge, confirming that yes, he actually did know the answer to every question, and that his memory was flawless.
Many New Yorkers experienced Rabbi Singer’s polished oratory in Yiddish, as he delivered homilies on the weekly parsha on WEVD, the station that “spoke his language”. Rabbi Singer’s fluency in modern Hebrew was even more astounding, as he relished reading the Hebrew publications, Maariv, and Hadoar. He was self taught in the intricacies of Hebrew grammar, a topic that surely was not prioritized at his yeshiva, Torah V’daas.
Rabbi Singer’s charm, self assurance and gentility were evident in everything he did. He truly was a renaissance man, as he balanced worldliness with devotion to G-d. He was a perfectionist, expecting precision from his children, but mostly of himself.
We pray that our son be endowed with Rabbi Singer’s great Lamdus [Torah scholarship], dignity, sociability, and most importantly, his Yiras Shamayim [fear of heaven] and gracious heart.