Mi'talmidav shel Avrohom...
הרה"צ ר' אברהם יהושע פריינד זצ"ל
"וכשמת, אומרים לו—אי עניו, אי חסיד, מתלמידיו של אברהם אבינו..." - ברכות ו ע"ב
When I first met Reb Avrum Shiya Freund, a jovial Satmar chossid from Williamsburg in his fifties, I was an undergraduate student at New York University. As a fresh ba'al teshuvah with long hair, colorful clothing, and a kippah serugah, one might have thought that we wouldn't be on quite the same wavelength, but Hashem apparently had other plans. I was in a shul in the Lower East Side, rummaging through the sheimos with a friend of mine, looking for salvageable seforim—true buried treasure. “Abraham” (as I always knew him) came over and said, “If you like old seforim, come to Williamsburg and you can search through my warehouse.”
Up for the adventure, I decided to take him up on the offer. The next day, after traveling via subway to Williamsburg, I called him and he came to pick me up from the station. I will not deny that the thought did cross my mind that perhaps it was not the wisest move to go by myself with a stranger to an abandoned warehouse, but, alas, he seemed to be a very nice person. In any event, Abraham helped me pack seven boxes of seforim—a two hour ordeal. Later, he personally delivered the boxes to my apartment in the Lower East Side. He did not ask for a single penny, neither for the seforim nor for the time he graciously provided.
As the years progressed, we stayed in touch. I quickly realized that Abraham was always helping other people in some way or another. At one point, he tried to find me a shidduch, setting me up on a date with a very nice young woman whose father he had known. Her father had unfortunately recently passed away, and Abraham felt a responsibility to help her get married.
Abraham knew that a relative of mine was in a very sad situation, and every time I encountered him—over the course of the decade I was blessed to know him—he would inquire about her welfare and give me chizuk and eitzos with regards to how to help.
One morning in Queens a few years ago, I met a young man in shul who was collecting for medical bills. He asked me if I knew of another shul nearby, and I gladly drove him to one. His plight was heart-breaking, so I tried to think of anything I could do to point him in the direction of someone who could assist further. “Do you know Abraham Freund?” I asked. He responded: “Abraham? He is the one who brought me here!”
The stories could continue and the ink would run dry. I will never forget the sincere ahavas Yisroel of this great and humble man—mi'talmidav shel Avrohom Avinu. May he be a meilitz yosher for his family and all of klal Yisroel. Yehi zichro boruch.