A Link to the Past; A Gift for Eternity
Anna Preisand was a single woman from Atlanta, Georgia. For many years, Anna devotedly cared for her ill sister, tending to her every need. When the day finally came that her sister passed on from this world, Anna sought to provide her with one final gift: the gift of merit for the soul in the Hereafter. Anna approached the principal of her local day school, requesting that he arrange Mishnah study, the study of the oral segment of the Torah, in her sister’s merit.
The principal gladly acquiesced, and turned to a teacher in the school, who agreed to undertake a course of Mishnah study in the merit of the deceased woman.
Sometime later, Anna Preisand disappointedly spoke to the principal again.
“Why isn’t the Mishnah study being properly completed?” Anna asked unhappily. The principal was nonplussed; as far as he knew, the teacher was studying Mishnah daily. Nevertheless, at Anna’s behest, the principal contacted the teacher.
“How did you know?” the teacher asked in astonishment. “The truth is, lately I’ve been lax in studying the Mishnah for Ms. Preisand.”
The principal then asked Rabbi Y. to stand in for the teacher. Rabbi Y. agreed gladly, and once again Mishnah was studied in the merit of Ms. Preisand. Each time Rabbi Y. met Anna Preisand, she thanked him from the bottom of her heart, saying, “You don’t know how much I owe you for studying Mishnah for the sake of Heaven.”
One day, Rabbi Y. curiously asked Anna, “How did you know that the teacher had stopped studying the Mishnah for your sister? And how are you so sure that it is being completed now?”
Anna responded with the following stunning revelation:
“At the time that the Mishnah study was discontinued, my sister appeared to me in a dream. She was dressed in grotesque clothing, and her expression was grim.
“‘I depended on you for the Mishnah study,’ my sister told me, ‘and it’s not being done.’
“After the principal arranged that you would resume the Mishnah study where the teacher left off, my sister once again appeared to me in a dream. This time her face was radiant.
“‘You have no idea what a comfort this is for me,’ my sister said.
“And that is how I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Mishnah is being studied properly in my sister’s merit,” Anna concluded.
Anna’s story reached the Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah offices, as a story that cuts to the very heart of the society’s mission. When a family is faced with the tragic loss of a relative, grief counseling is not enough. Beyond feeling the acuteness of the loss, sensitive individuals seek to accomplish something, to build, to achieve, to turn the loss into an everlasting accomplishment.
Jewish tradition has always firmly stressed the immortality of the soul, and the existence of life in the Hereafter. When a soul departs from this world, the body returns to the earth from whence it came, while the soul endures for eternity in the World to Come. There, in the Hereafter, the soul is rewarded for every good deed with everlasting bliss.
Although the departed individual no longer has the capability to acquire meritorious deeds for himself, those left behind in this world have the capability of bestowing merit upon their loved one. Each meritorious act that is done in the memory of the departed soul, adds to the soul’s joy and merit in the World to Come.
Along with recital of the traditional Kaddish and Yizkor prayers, a primary means of acquiring merit for the deceased is through the study of Mishnah, the oral segment of the Torah. The Hebrew letters of the word Mishnah are interchangeable with the letters for the word Neshamah, soul. This anagram crystallizes the Kabbalistic connection between Mishnah study and elevation of the soul.
Although countless families wish to provide merit for their loved ones in this way, many Jews are not capable of studying the Mishnah themselves. Some have never received the requisite education; others cannot spare the time. Yet, how can these souls be denied the infinite rewards of merit in the World to Come?
Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah seeks to fill this void. Galvanized by the mission of providing merit for every Jewish soul, Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah consists of a network of learned Torah scholars, erudite individuals who are available to study Mishnah for others. Through the Society’s auspices, families can commission a Torah scholar to study Mishnah in the merit of a designated soul. The Society even provides the option of family members studying together with the scholar, using an annotated and vocalized text, to provide a personalized touch to an already meaningful gift.
In the years since its inception, the Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah has grown and evolved. Due to numerous requests from countless individuals, it has expanded its Mishnah study service, augmenting it with additional options for Kaddish and Yizkor recital, Talmud study, and the recital of Psalms. Specialized memorials were set in place to immortalize the memory of Israeli soldiers and victims of the Holocaust. New branches were added to study Torah and recite prayers in honor of the living, whether as a meaningful addition to a joyous occasion, or a source of merit for those seeking Divine intervention through challenging times.
Whatever the occasion, Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah is there to supply fellow Jews with the immeasurable rewards of Torah study and prayer. Using the utmost tact and sensitivity, it has helped numerous individuals to provide merit for those they love most. And that, in the words of Anna Preisand’s departed sister, is an unfathomable source of comfort, both for the departed, and for the families they left behind.
For more information and various sponsorship opportunities, contact Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah at 732-364-7029 or at ChevrahLomdeiMishnah.org.