Prior to Rosh Hashanah, our daughter Bracha insisted on giving a sizeable amount of tzedakah to a worthy organization. This gift was in addition to the amount she is careful to separate from her earnings on a weekly basis. Barely sixteen, our daughter is not intending to become rich from her part-time job, but parting with even more than the usual 10 percent of her salary was clearly above and beyond the letter of the law.
Before actually mailing away the gift, I gave Bracha a few opportunities to reconsider her plan. When I saw that I would not succeed, I mailed the check, along with the beautiful letter she had written in order that the Gedolim overseeing the fund could pray on her behalf. She was determined to enter the New Year with this extra mitzvah in hand. Secretly, even though I was concerned that she would later regret donating the money, I was proud of her decision.
Keeping in mind the teaching that “Teshuvah, tefillah and tzedakah (repentance, prayer and charity) can cancel the evil decree,” our family was working on the spiritual aspects of our Rosh Hashanah preparation. We purchased new Hebrew/English machzorim (prayer books) for the children. Some of our daughters even attended special classes, listened to recorded speeches, and read additional articles about the meaning of the season in order to reach a new level of inspiration and mitzvah observance.
On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, while Bracha was serving the meal, she absent-mindedly placed one of the hand mitts she was using on the electric burner, which we had kept on for Yom Tov. Though she smelled something burning, she did not realize where the smell was coming from. When she put the mitt back on her hand to take the chicken out of the oven, she was horrified to see fire coming out of the mitt. After staring in disbelief and letting out a few piercing screams, she was able to pull the mitt off without even suffering as much as a slight burn on her hand or fingers.
As my daughter stared at the bright red mitt with the dark black rings of the burner etched on top of the palm area, we both looked at each other and smiled. “Remember the tzedakah you gave before Rosh Hashanah? Remember how you wanted to give a large amount even though I insisted that you did not need to send so much money? Bracha looked at her undamaged but warm hand. She clearly felt that tremendous sense of satisfaction in knowing that “with help from Above,” she was being watched and protected. Bracha’s hand was warm to give, and that was the way it stayed − warm, but not burnt.