We adorn the Torah, our most precious possession, with a crown that is typically made of silver – as a symbol of our endearment and veneration of the Torah. A crown, called Kesser or Atara in Hebrew, denotes royalty, radiance and beauty.
Liba Devorah Gutnick, whose name Liba means “love” in Yiddish, indeed radiated love and beauty in her short 10 years on this world. Like the crown of the Torah, she symbolizes beauty, grace, endearment and a deep and committed connection with the Torah.
The crown’s connection with the Torah is evident from the numerical value of the Hebrew word for crown – Kesser (spelt Kaf, Saf, Reish). The Hebrew letter Kaf has the numerical value of the number 20, the Saf is 400 and the Resh is 200 – a total of 620. This represents the 613 Torah commandments and the 7 Rabbinical commandments. The crown and the Torah are thus deeply connected – as are a grandparent and a grand-daughter. This special relationship is described by the words of our Sages: “Ateres Zekeinim, B’nei Bonim – The crown of grandparents is their children’s children”.
In Chassidic thought, the Sefira (Divine attribute) of Kesser denotes G-d’s Supernal Will, which supersedes human understanding. As a crown lies above a head of a king or queen so too the Sefira of Kesser is above and beyond the reach of our minds. We do, however, understand that according to Kabbala the revelation of Kesser powers all the other Sefiros and manifestations below it. These lower levels of Divine revelation are more logical and explicable and we therefore understand that our acceptance of G-d’s Will does lead to Chochmah – Wisdom, Bina – Understanding and so on. We also learn that the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy are derived from the Sefirah of Kesser. (For more information on this topic, see Chabad.org: Two Systems of Ten Sefirot.) In summation, everything Hashem does is good and merciful even if we do not understand it.
Liba was a happy and healthy 10 year old when she succumbed to illness on the third of Nissan in the year 1993. The many years that have passed since then have hardly softened the blow of the loss of this beautiful girl and she is still sadly missed not only by her parents, siblings and the extended Gutnick/Kramer families but also by her classmates and many friends and communities which she was part of.
We await the coming of Moshiach when we will all feel true comfort and joy as we are reunited with our loved ones and come to understand the meaning of everything in our physical world and existence as reflected in Kesser. May Hashem’s good, true and merciful Providence be revealed and experienced by us all with the welcoming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu – our righteous Moshiach now.
Crown lovingly donated by Liba’s class at Beth Rivkah
Liba was part of a wonderful class in a warm and beautiful environment at Beth Rivkah Ladies College in Melbourne. The entire school was affected by her passing but none more than her beloved classmates in Grade 5. One mother related that the class was never the same and that Liba’s passing left a void in the Hashkofa, Yiddishkeit, in the Achdus and Ahavas Yisroel. The teachers related that they could simply stare at her beauty as it was the sort of beauty that reflected the beautiful middos that she had. To help address this void the Gutnicks contribute a Sefer Chitas as an Ahavas Yisroel Award which is awarded at the primary graduation to a girl in Grade 5 exemplifying the wonderful qualities of Ahavas Yisroel that Liba had. Liba’s good friend Shiffi Wolf said the following at their recent 10 year reunion since graduating in 2000.
Liba o”h was an amazing girl, who cared about everyone; she was like a precious gem. I would compare Liba o”h to a gem in the crown of a Torah in the way that she always shone, loved learning and loved to do the mitzvah of Vahavta Lrayacha Kamocha (loving her friends as herself). Torah is something that is everlasting and the memory of the Ahavas Yisroel that Liba o”h had for everyone will live on in our hearts forever.
In school we used to raise money for her Yortzeit and give it to Tzadoka. Since we left school I have continued this act and I feel that Liba o”h is still with me. She will never leave my heart or mind.’
The two class photos are of Libas’s classmates in grade 4 in 1992. Liba is seated third from right in the photo on the left.