if I wanted volunteers to help with my special needs child. I said that would
be great. She said she has two girls offering to volunteer on Sundays. I said
Shabbos would be much better for us. She said okay then, she will look
elsewhere for placement for them - to fill their 'chesed' hours, to fulfill their quota of 'doing good' service.
thought. "What about me? What about
finding someone to help me?"
their 'kindness' for? Themselves
called me up, quite frustrated. She asked
her mentor, for whom she also volunteers, to make time for her to discuss a
pressing issue. He kept putting her off. As weeks went by, she got more and
more impatient. "Absolutely can't see you till
Tuesday!" he said with finality.By then
she was so down, she didn't even care to resolve her problem.
morning he calls, "It looks like
this morning would be better for me." "Better for him?!", my friend shouted to me, outraged, "Is this all about him?!?"
Ooooh, my friend
seventy eighty years, the Baal Shem Tov says, a neshomo, a soul, may descend to this world solely to do a Jew a
material favor and certainly a spiritual one.
lives a lofty life up in heaven, basking in G-d's Holy Glory. Then it's time to
come down into this mundane world where G-dliness is hardly felt. The soul
prefers not to go, yet it goes, against its will. However, when we do one good
deed, whoa, our soul benefits! It reaches a level even loftier than before.
Total bliss. And so it's worth it. It's worth it for the soul to wear and tear
for all these years just to do a favor for another. To gain that reward.
is the value I try to impart to my children.
shopping, my daughter and I, to our favorite Israeli boutique. She found a
skirt she liked; the style, the fit and of course the price. She placed the
prized skirt over the bar while trying her luck, checking out the other
merchandise on the rack. I'm standing right next to her, when i hear her
mumbling our motto - "For seventy
eighty years a neshomo comes down to do a favor for another Jew." I turn
around to see another woman proudly walking offwith my daughter's....... skirt. My daughter
could have said, "Hey lady, that's
my skirt, give it back". But she chose not to. She chose to allow
another Jewish woman to be happy instead.
about us. It's not about what's good for me. It's, what can I do for another?
hundreds of stories of R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who was known to be a
lover of Israel and an advocate on behalf of each and every Jew. One story that
often comes to mind that exemplifies his outstanding care for every Jew is the
one where he gives away his own portion in the world -to-come to a dying Jew
who was unable to die in peace, for he knew he did not have any merits and was
afraid to face Heaven 'empty'. R' Levi Yitzchak, without batting an eyelash,
promised this man his own portion in paradise just so that a fellow Jew would
have a few moments of relief. Moments later the man sank into his pillow and -
died in peace.
an amazing story from the Talmud about Mar Ukva, a great Sage, which tells the
extent to which he went, to avoid shaming another Jew.
neighborhood there lived an extremely poor person.
day, the Rabbi would leave four coins behind the pauper's door. In this way,
the pauper would never see his benefactor.
One day the
pauper decided to catch his benefactor in the act and see who he was. When the
pauper saw the coins being delivered, he ran out to see who was there. Mar Ukva
ran away and jumped into a hot oven, 'til his feet started to burn. Mar Ukva
protected the pauper from the shame of seeing the great Rabbi providing him his
daily needs. What was the need for Mar Ukva to hide in a hot oven?
Concludes the Talmud: Because a
person should rather let oneself be thrown into a burning furnace than put
another person to shame.
from these stories. They warm my heart. (And not from the oven's heat). I too
want to perform selflessly.
personally melt when I'm treated with extra consideration. When the parking
attendant graciously allows me to park on the side, where no cars are allowed,
I'm thinking, 'What a nice person, G-d
bless him'. I am so grateful to him. Why? Why does it overwhelm me that
somebody was nice? Why should this not be the norm? Why am I bowled over when
someone does a kind act?
a woman we knew that lived in the mountains. She owned a second home there for
family and friends to use. She kept inviting us to come with our kids and spend
some time there in the summer. I always felt uncomfortable taking advantage of
her kindness. One summer we finally went and had a wonderful time. The cool
air, the private beach and boating were wonderful. When I couldn't stop
thanking her, she repeatedly told me that it was actually a Mitzva for me to
come. And of course I should come again! Which of course we did, after all it
was a Mitzva. 'A Mitzva?!'', I
thought to myself. 'I'm doing a Mitzva by
using this kind woman's beautiful cabin and enjoying ourselves??!' But that
was part of her generosity. Part of her giving - fully. To make me feel like I
was the one giving to her.
to the Heavenly Chambers, says the Rebbe Maharash, is to help another
wholeheartedly, with sensitivity, to take pleasure in doing a kindness to
is ringing. Caller ID tells me it's the elderly woman who wants my listening
ear, or to give her a ride somewhere. She has aches and pains. She is lonely.
I'm totally not in the mood to listen to her; I have other pressing things to
do right now. However.....
"For seventy eighty years...." I sing. As
I lift the receiver -