My two delicious daughters were engaged in one of their favorite activities – bathing. Swimsuits and all, they were playing in the water, unaware of all the rushed Erev Shabbos preparations. Every once in a while I would stop by the bathroom to check if they needed anything, but they were quite self-sufficient and very occupied.
After almost an hour of bath-time fun, I told them that it was time to come out. They wrapped themselves in their soft, fluffy bathrobes, their wet hair dripping and their natural curls beginning to spring back to shape.
“Wow, girls, you were in there for so long! What were you playing?” I asked them.
“Shampoo gemach” was the simple and innocent sweet answer.
“Shampoo gemach? How do you play that?” I was intrigued.
“Well,” my older daughter answered, “I was a lady with a shampoo gemach and Shira came to the gemach to borrow shampoo.”
So simple. Shira ran out of shampoo so she went to the gemach to borrow some more. (I hope she had the sense to get dressed before going out!)
Pride washed over my senses. I tried to place the pride. It wasn’t pride in my children, as they were just mimicking the society in which they live. Rather it was pride in our community that stresses gemachs and acts of gemilas chesed. Families that try to find ways to help others. People that go out of their way to search for opportunities to practice kindness.
I thought of my building of 10 families, 10 neighbors sharing a common space. One neighbor lends their car freely to those that need it. Another neighbor runs a simcha-accessory gemach – providing tablecloths, vases, serving platters and the like. A third neighbor has a medicine gemach, another a refrigerator gemach, and yet another a chair-and-stamp gemach. That puts us at six gemachs in a 10-family building.
We knock on each other’s doors to borrow noodles, flour and sugar. Sometimes we even borrow money from one another. Most of us have lists posted in our homes with items that we have borrowed, ensuring that we return them.
“Olam Chesed Yibaneh” (Tehillim 89:3). I thank Hashem that I merited to live in this microcosmic world of chesed. I thank Hashem that my daughters play “shampoo gemach.” I thank Hashem for the opportunity of living as a frum Jew, searching for ways to make life easier and more enjoyable for other people. And I daven that Hashem focus on our positive acts toward each other and ignore our shortcomings, thereby being zocheh to the final geulah.