I was on a city bus as it stopped for a young boy frantically waving his arms, fearful the bus might not stop for him on this snowy February afternoon. As the boy, wearing a thin jacket, boarded the bus, he searched his pockets for bus fare, found nothing, and told the bus driver he had left his money at home. “Could you please let me ride this bus?” he asked. “I promise to give you the money tomorrow. It’s so freezing outside, and it’s such a long walk home.” The bus driver refused, ordering the boy to leave the bus immediately.
The intensity of the snow increased. The thought of this young boy, clutching his schoolbooks, walking home through a freezing snowstorm, compelled me to give the boy a dollar for bus fare. None of the other passengers, sitting stone-faced, seemed to care about the boy’s plight – nor did anyone offer to help him. “Thank you, lady, so much!” he responded with a big smile. “If you give me your address, I’ll mail a dollar to you.” “That won’t be necessary,” I replied. “I’m just glad you’re going home in a warm bus.”
That evening, my daughter called me from her college dorm room to share an uplifting account of a kindness extended to her earlier in the day by a stranger.
“I was standing in line in the college cafeteria, with a sandwich on my tray, as I approached the cashier. ‘That will be two dollars’ she said. All I had in my pocket was one dollar, as I realized I had left my wallet in my dorm – and with only about 10 minutes until my next class, and my dorm room a seven-minute walk, I realized there wasn’t any time for me to return to my dorm for the money. I asked the cashier if she would let me give her the dollar after my class, and she refused. ‘I have to follow the rules,’ she said.”
My daughter told me how dejected she felt because if she had no lunch, she would not eat anything until evening, when her last class would end. “Mom, I’d feel so starved; the last time I ate was 7a.m.!” My daughter continued: “Just when I felt there was no hope, and I was about to return my sandwich, a lady suddenly appeared in my line and offered to give me the extra dollar I needed for my lunch. I hadn’t noticed her before, and she didn’t look like a student. As she handed me the dollar, I promised to pay her back, and asked her for her name and address. She smiled. “Don’t worry about paying me back, just enjoy your sandwich. I’m happy to help you.”
I mentioned to my daughter how I had helped a young boy on the bus earlier that day by giving him the dollar he needed to avoid a long walk home through a snowstorm, that he had offered to repay me, and that I said that I was happy to help him. Suddenly, I realized that my giving the boy a dollar and the lady giving my daughter a dollar were parallel events of kindness. “What time was it when the lady gave you the dollar?” I asked my daughter. “Oh, about 2:30 p.m.,” she responded. I realized that it was also at 2:30 p.m. that I had helped the boy. We were both amazed. I didn’t realize that at the same time I had helped the boy, a kind stranger had helped my daughter.
Hineni founder Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, who provides great spiritual inspiration through her books and talks, stresses the Torah belief that every time you do a good deed, you create a good angel who walks with you throughout your life, guarding and protecting you. She states that the Hebrew word for good deed, “mitzvah,” means “connection”: “Every time you do a mitzvah, you connect to G-d.”