A powerful lesson on how to end our days of mourning…
Not long ago you ran a letter from a mother-in-law who, in her words, counts herself lucky (see Chronicles, 6-15). Her letter was a beautiful testimony to her children by way of a positive affirmation of the mother/daughter-in-law relationship, and I trust you don’t mind publishing another article with a positive slant. Though my mother-in-law does figure into my story, the emphasis is on hope and miracles, and faith in Hashem.
For years now we have had an extremely difficult time with parnassah. Ever since the real estate market took a nasty tumble and our world turned upside down, it’s been a struggle just to keep our family fed. Most of our close friends and neighbors have come to realize that we are not well off, but they have no idea to what degree. Yet our emunah remains strong and intact, and day-by-day we have somehow managed to survive.
The yeshivas our children attend have for the most part been understanding of our plight, but come summertime it is difficult to explain to our children why their friends are away at camp (or in day camp) while they must entertain themselves at home. Baruch Hashem this summer our eldest two have summer jobs, and, miracle of miracles, our 12-year old son was offered a scholarship in a recognized sleep-away camp. This still leaves us with a few youngsters at home, but who’s complaining…
The great news became sobering when we saw the list of items our son needed to take to camp. No way would we be able to pull this off — and no way would we deprive him of such a wonderful opportunity. It was time to sell the only item of value that I had held onto: my modest engagement ring.
Our extended family chipped in to help us out, and together with the money we received for the ring it looked like we would make it. My mother-in-law, who lives in a different town, had bought some items of clothing on sale and had a neighbor of hers visiting our neck of the woods deliver them.
When the amiable Mr. Neighbor showed up at our door with my mother-in-law’s package, he informed us that he too had contributed something that we would find in the bag. (Apparently he knew something of our situation.) After he left we checked the contents of the package and were surprised to find a heavy coffee can filled to the brim with coins and bills.
Within a day or so of this incident, our gas was shut off due to an unpaid bill. No amount of pleading moved the company personnel to have rachmonus on us; they wouldn’t even accept a partial payment. We were told that in order to restore the service we would need to pay up in full — a sum of $877.81.
Since whatever we had left from the sale of the ring would hardly cover even half that amount, we decided to raid the piggy bank we hadn’t touched in years. (Long ago we had begun to accumulate spare change in an empty water bottle.) My husband and I, coffee can and water bottle in hand, took off for the local bank that has an automated coin changer.
When we added the money we had left to the tally of the two containers, the total came to $877 and change — the exact amount we needed to have our gas turned back on!
Needless to say, only Hashem could orchestrate such a “coincidence” — to show us that He is in charge and helps those who rely on Him to help them out. We all know that without the doings of chessed the world would literally not have a leg to stand on, and we are truly appreciative of those who partner with Him in carrying out gemilus chassadimin every form.
Thank you, Hashem!
What a heart-warming letter and affirmation of the Jewish heart that cannot bear to see another suffer. Would more people be made aware of your dire circumstances, no doubt more would be showing up at your door bearing their filled “coffee cans.”
Understandably, your pride keeps you from wearing your woes on your sleeves (as you say, your closest friends and neighbors are oblivious to the extent of your suffering). But G-d certainly is not, and in that vein it is important for all of us to heed the words of our Sages – “marbeh tzedaka marbeh sholom” – the more charity the more peace. (See Pirkei Avos 2:3)
The Arizal once warned his talmidim that Heaven had issued a decree that their vegetation be destroyed by a swarm of locusts that would wreak devastation on all the fields in the Holy Land. And all because of a poor talmid chacham who was pouring out his anguish to Hashem. The Ari advised his talmidim to take up a collection that Rebbe Yosef HaKohen would then give to the poverty stricken Reb Moshe.
When Reb Yosef went to Reb Moshe to give him the money, he found him weeping and asked him to please not complain to G-d because his crying had led to a harsh retribution against all the Jews in the land. Reb Moshe, upon hearing this, fell to the ground and asked Hashem to forgive him.
Soon thereafter, the talmidim spotted an army of locusts approaching in the distance, but the Holy Ari assured them that G-d had nullified the decree. Sure enough a strong wind carried the camp of locusts out to sea, and from that day onward the inhabitants of Tzfas were mindful of providing Reb Moshe with parnassah b’revach.
Thus we learn how our acts of tzedaka, that keep the impoverished from crying out, spare us Hashem’s wrath and lead to marbeh sholom. If more of us would strive to emulate the kindly Mr. Neighbor, we would evoke Hashem’s rachmonus … and the ultimate yeshua would be upon us in the blink of an eye.
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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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