The Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah D’Monsey, Rav Moshe Green, was my husband’s rebbe since the day he became a talmid of the yeshivah at the age of 16. Several years later, he was our mesader kiddushin, and from that day onward we never made a major decision without the Rosh Yeshivah’s guidance. Over the years, I had the incredible privilege to meet with the Rosh Yeshivah, both in his small study near the yeshivah, and in the dining room of his simple home, where he and his eishes chayil, tbd”l, Rebbetzin Chana, raised 17 children—ten daughters and seven sons. Each time I left their home, I was in awe of the Rosh Yeshivah’s humility, his wisdom, and his warmth and caring.
The Rosh Yeshivah was niftar last year two days before Pesach. Now, days before his first yahrtzeit, the Rosh Yeshivah’s daughters and a daughter-in-law—nearly all of them are grandparents, some of them great-grandparents—share memories of their childhood, of being raised in a home permeated with love and warmth, a home where each of these 17 children felt cherished, like an only child.
The youngest daughter relates:
When I was a little girl, I did not realize that my father was a rosh yeshivah with hundreds of talmidim, that his name was revered across the Torah world. At home my father was simply Totty, the light and sunshine of our lives.
On some level I did understand because my teachers would often “help” by reminding me of the fact. I was a spunky child, and they would frequently scold me. How could a daughter of my father misbehave?
As the youngest in the family, I was born when my four eldest siblings were already married and had children of their own. Some of my nieces and nephews are older than I am.
Our home was always bustling with action, yet at the same time it was calm and organized. We had a full house, as my older brothers would come home from yeshivah every night. My father was very protective of his children, and refused to allow my brothers to sleep in the dorm.
Although we only had four bedrooms, (my brother and his family lived downstairs), we never felt cramped or squashed. I don’t know how my mother accomplished this, but our home was peaceful and organized. Every child had his or her own bed and space, a drawer or hanging space in the closet. My parents rarely raised their voices. They were calm and collected, raising us with menuchas hanefesh, with a sense of purpose.
My father was in the yeshivah all day, but when he came home, especially when I was younger, he picked up a broom and did whatever was needed. I felt very comfortable speaking to my father and telling him whatever was on my mind. At the same time we all had tremendous awe and respect, and we wouldn’t dare interrupt or contradict him.
Our home functioned like clockwork. We always woke up on time, and got dressed quickly. In our household there was no mad rush for the bus; we were usually waiting at the bus stop early. Breakfast was always at the same hour, and there was a healthful snack waiting for us when we came home from school. Supper was served on the button, and the children ate first, so that my father should have peace and quiet when he came home from a full day in yeshivah.
The minute my father walked through the door, and I still remember this so clearly, all the children scampered off to their rooms to give our parents some quiet time. My parents would eat supper alone in our small kitchen. They didn’t have to remind us or tell us not to intrude—we were just trained that way.