Stories & Memories of Yisrolik Jacobs

By: Ephraim Potash January 19

The Greatest Tankist in Europe

Yisroel we are going to miss you so much. You were the driving force to go out on mivtzoim and to get other people to go out on mivtzoim.

I got to know Yisroel z"l very well indeed over the past 15 years or so when I had the zechus of driving the Stamford Hill Mitzvah Tank on Fridays. I calculate that we were together for over 2000 hours over that time.

The Mitzvah Tank would traditionally go out on Sundays and Fridays but Yisroel wanted more. It was the indefatigable Mrs H Pesach of the Home in Schonfeld Square who urged us to go out another day in the week for his sake and so Tuesday was added to the list.

Over the years at the suggestion of his cousin Harav AY Raskin, Yisroel started collecting the mobile numbers of men who were willing to be called to come to the Mitzvah Tank to put on tefillin. On average, 30-40% of our 'customers' were his contacts. It is estimated that in 15 years he got approximately 2500 hanochas tefillin! Some were even persuaded to buy a pair of tefillin aided by a grant from Mivtza Tefillin and they lay tefillin daily.

An illustration of his grit and determination is one of our 'customers' - Benche - (a Cohen), an avowed communist. For years he would refuse to put on tefillin and so eventually we gave up on him. But not Yisroel. He would engage him in conversation for over an hour, regularly interjecting "you can always change your mind!" Eventually after about 2 and a half years of gentle but persistent prodding he said yes! From then he would agree to put on tefillin from time to time.

Yisrolik za"l sometimes did mofsim too. One of our regulars K. who puts on tefillin daily through Yisroel got in trouble with the authorities and he was fined £1500. He rang Yisroel to tell him of his troubles. Yisroel blurted out "You won't have to pay!". A couple of days later K's sister rang him and told him that her daughter came down that morning and told her mother that she had dreamt of K. She asked her mother "Did we ever pay back Uncle K the £1500 he lent us 15 years ago (when they had financial problems)? As they had not, K's sister rang him and told him she is in a position to pay him back his loan of £1500! When he told her about the fine she said "Don't worry I will pay the fine"!

I will end with something I said 5 months ago  at the shloshim of our dear son Shimon ז"ל who was a chaver of Yisroel ז"ל in Manchester Yeshivas Lubavitch. They were the same age 47. ימי שנותינו בהם שבעים שנה ואם בגבורות שמונים שנה.

The word בהם is seemingly unnecessary as the posuk makes sense without it. The gematria of בהם is 47. (This was actually said in relation to the Rebbe MaHaRaSh נ"ע who passed away at 48 (בהם with the כולל)).

I added that I feel that the posuk is saying that the normal lifespan is 70 or with גבורות 80 years. But there are some very special neshomos who achieve their task in life in only 47 years.

The family should have nechomo knowing what a special neshomo Yisroel was.  המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Ephraim Potash

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