Teaching is such a rewarding experience! I am blessed to be able to work in a wonderful Hebrew after-school program in Manalapan, N.J. run by Chabad. I teach the younger group of 6-9 year old students, and they teach me.
Before vacation, the rabbi who directs the program conducted a raffle for the students as he does at the end of every four sessions. This raffle adds excitement and fun for the children and helps reward good attendance. Each student receives up to four tickets per raffle. All together that makes around 200 tickets that the director can pick from and he usually draws for at least two prizes. He passes out tickets using a roll of tickets from the Staples store with two rows of numbers, one for the draw and one for the student to keep. The prizes are valuable and much desired by the students. Some gifts include gift cards, tablets, expensive games, scooters, and so on.
Over the year we have seen a pattern among the winners. It looks to me that more than good attendance that is being rewarded, is the good behavior which is being watched by the One Above. I teach our students that nothing happens by chance and certainly that includes a raffle drawing. Hashem is running the world and everything that happens in it.
I have an 8-year-old student who very much wants, at her young age and with whatever resources she has, to please Hashem. When she comes to class she quietly shares the list of good deeds that she has recently accomplished without pride, just with pure joy and satisfaction. I look forward to coming to class to hear about the additional good deeds she has managed to add to her collection.
During one of our conversations before vacation she told me that after she received money for her birthday she didn’t keep it. What did she decide to do with the money instead? She used it to buy a mug for her aunt that is sick with cancer! After our conversation I was motivated to approach the school’s director and share with him what my special student Andrea had done with her birthday money. I said to him that it is my feeling that she has often been the student who wins the raffle because of the great amount of chessed she does.
Two days later we all went to a large room for the raffle. Andrea was absent but we still write out tickets for those students who come to school on the sessions prior to the raffle. The students all scrambled to give the rabbi their tickets and the growing excitement was clearly felt in the room. I held onto the tickets of my students who were absent. The rabbi called out the first number (which is the bigger of the two prizes) and no one in the room seemed to have the ticket. I looked at my stack of tickets wondering if Katie was going to win again. When I saw that the winning ticket had her name on it I asked the director, “Do you know who had the winning ticket?” His eyes opened wide, and hesitating he asked, “Katie?”
With a huge smile of recognition and happy to see once again that Hashem is running this raffle like He runs everything else, I nodded and affirmed the truth. I am keeping Katie’s winning ticket in my wallet to remind me wherever we go and whatever we do, Hashem is taking notice.
Don’t stop. Keep doing those good deeds. The big ones and the small ones. The ones that you have to stretch and sacrifice and the ones that no one notices. Hashem is watching, “He never slumbers.” You might not get the winning ticket at the next raffle you attend but up there where it really counts you will be gathering a fortune of winning tickets! He will surely reward you for everything you have done!