Weekly Inspiration

You Can Do It, Shuey!
June 20th, 2024
You Can Do It, Shuey!

Shuey Rhine was larger than life. That’s a cliché, but in his case it’s true. 

Shuey departed this world on 29 Iyar at the age of forty eight. He left behind a wife and children as well as his mother and his siblings. 

Shuey was intimately involved with our life at a time of great miracles, and he was a miracle-worker himself. He came for Shabbos more times than I can count. He was like my brother, maybe more like my son. Over recent years we saw him less frequently, but his place in our life is forever. 

Shuey was a master salesman. He could sell anything, but what he wanted most to sell was kedusha. Everything by Shuey became kodesh. He was a salesman for Hashem. 

We met in the year 2000. My first book had just been published, From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul. The publisher was not well-known in the Jewish world and a close yedid named Reb Tsemach Glenn was anxious to help us get this book out to the world. Tsemach is quite a salesman himself! 

So my wife and I met Tsemach at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. After davening mincha, the plan was to go into Borough Park to the seforim dealers and get this book accepted in the Jewish World. But first, Tsemach took us around the corner to meet someone special. 

The Gadol ha Dor, Ha Rav Aaron ha Kohain Pam zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath, was niftar within the year, but, when Reb Tsemach introduced us, he was full of life. He gave us an hour of his precious time, but I believe with all my heart that he enjoyed every minute. I told the Rosh Yeshiva the story of our life and gave him a copy of the new book. Then he gave us a bracha which – it would seem – soared up into Shomayim! At that moment Reb Tsemach – also a famous photographer of gadolim – took a memorable picture. 

Then Tsemach, my wife and I made the rounds in Borough Park. Doors miraculously opened everywhere. After all … we had Rav Pam’s bracha! Then we entered Eichler’s 13th Avenue, which advertises itself as “the largest Judaica retailer anywhere in the world.” 

I walked up to the counter and asked whom we should speak to about my new book. And I got this sideways look: “See that guy at the back? His name is Shuey. Shuey is very busy, so I don’t know if he’ll have time to speak with you, but he’s the one who does the English books here.” And so, we entered the lion’s den. 

But we had a secret weapon: Rav Pam’s bracha. And a miracle happened. 

Suddenly, I was Shuey’s friend. 

Here is the story in Shuey’s own words: “It was just an ordinary day when I was working at Eichler’s. I was around twenty. I had a goal. I had a job and I had to look at the big picture. Even though I liked books, I found many times that an author would come in – whatever his life story was – and sometimes these guys would rub me the wrong way. Like a guy would feel that his book was everything. And I would get annoyed.           

“When Yisroel Neuberger came into the store with his wife and Tsemach Glenn, I felt like his book looks interesting, but how many people are going to buy it? So I bought half a dozen copies and put it by the ‘New Arrivals.’ 

“But I was curious, because Yisroel had come into the store and given me his card. Now it had become personal. I said to myself, ‘Let me open it up and see what it’s about.’ I read the story and it’s such an interesting story and Yisroel is a great writer. I don’t know where he went to writing school, but I actually went home and read the book in one shot, standing! I didn’t even sit down! I read the entire book! And I loved it. 

“Because it was selling so well in Eichler’s, magazines would call me up and ask, ‘Which book is the best seller?’ and I would tell them this book because I had a personal connection to it. Every time a Chabad shaliach would come in and ask me for a book I recommended it. I really believed in it. I wouldn’t sell something that I didn’t believe in, so it’s not like I sold it because I liked Yisroel, but I really loved the book. I loved it and believed in it. Something got to me in the book. There was something special about it.” (From Sinai to Yerushalayim by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer, Artscroll/Mesorah)

And then our relationship became personal. 

“Yisroel and Leah are sort of like everyone’s Bubby and Zeide in Klal Yisroel. I had a lot of love in my house (where I grew up) and I have a beautiful family, but… Yisroel and Leah played a tremendous role in my life. They became like a second family to me and I - a ben bayis in their house. They treated me really special, really special. From the pool to the cholent and how to taste Bakers (Bourbon). 

“Leah’s mother taught me how bring out the taste in Scotch. 

“Yisroel’s father showed me how to drink a glass of red wine. There was maybe a half inch in there and by the end of the meal there was maybe a drop less than half an inch. I saw that it’s not about drinking. Yisroel and Leah taught me a lot of elegant, interesting things. I still love Laurent Perrier (champagne) and Sharon’s sorbet. I can’t even find words to thank them. They built a foundation.      

“I remember Yisroel yelling at me. I felt like a nebach being single and coming to (his son) Ari’s wedding, but Yisroel said, ‘If the family makes a wedding, you are there!’ He gave me a good potch, with love. ‘What do you mean? You’re part of our family. Don’t play hookey.’ I felt really close. These are good friends. I liked the couch in their living room, and I went to get a couch like that for my family. Yisroel made a bracha under my chupa. I feel like he is there every day. He gave me such hugs and kisses … his divrai Torah and Leah’s cooking….”

Now do you see why I love Shuey? But he went way beyond. He became a great person. He went into the world of finance and sold things which I don’t understand but which cost more than books. But it was all about Hashem. Shuey’s mind was always on ruchnius. Maybe he was just too big for this world. 

Now Shuey: please speak to the Master of the World. You are standing next to Him. He loves you. Ask him … for Everything! You know how to say it! You can do it. We need Him to send us Moshiach at this very second. Shuey, you can do it! There is not a moment to lose! 
You can do it, Shuey! 


Ben Bayis: a part of the family 
Bracha: blessing
Chupha: canopy under which a bride and groom stand
Gadol ha Dor: great rabbi of the generation
Kedusha: holiness
Kodesh: holy 
Mincha: afternoon prayers
Niftar: a person who has died
Rosh yeshiva: head of a yeshiva
Ruchnius: holiness
Seforim: Jewish books
Shomayim: the Next World
Yedid: close friend

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