Yosef was a mechanic. He spent the bulk of his days driving up and down the streets and highways in the Tel Aviv area, assisting cars in need. Whenever he could, he would fix the cars on the spot, and when necessary, he would tow them for further help. It was hard work, yet what does one not do for parnasah?
One morning, Yosef received a call from a car stranded on the highway on its way to Lod. He got in to his tow truck and headed over. As he was passing Savyon, one of the most upper-class neighborhoods in Israel, he noticed a car in the shoulder, its lights blinking. Near it stood a woman, waving her hands as she motioned to the tow truck to stop. Yosef pulled over. The car was an exclusive model, but its tire was flat.
“Would you mind helping me change the tire?” the woman who introduced herself as Batya asked.
Yosef realized that this car was not contracted by the company he was employed by and he was thus not obliged to service it. Batya would not accept his explanations and pleaded, “Changing the tire is not something I could possibly do on my own! Please help me!”
He wavered for a moment.
From a business perspective, he was not required or expected to do the job. But a spark of compassion prompted him to perform a chessed, just this once.
Yosef approached the car and within a few minutes, the spare tire was in place. While Yosef removed his gloves and returned his tools to his truck, the driver drew a checkbook from her purse.
“This is for you!” Batya exclaimed as she handed him a signed check. “Thanks to the favor you’ve done for me, I can now continue on to work! Who knows how much longer I would have had to wait for someone to notice me and help me out? I have some important business meetings set up for this morning and it means so much to me that you helped me make it more or less on time… I really appreciate it!”
Yosef glanced at the check and was shocked to see the amount written out: 2800 shekels! A sizeable amount according to all standards!
But more shocking was Yosef’s response. He simply refused to take the check! “I changed your tire as a mitzvah of chessed. And mitzvos are not sold for money.”
Batya, an established businesswoman, could not believe her ears! She had never confronted something like this before. In her world, no one would decline a reward, especially not a well-deserved one! Not wanting to remain on the receiving end, she tried to pressure him to accept the bonus. “Look, I already wrote out the check,” she said. “What should I do with it now?!”
“It’s not a problem,” Yosef responded, “the next time you meet someone from a poor or disadvantaged family, you can give your check. Anyone will be happy with it. I will not sell my mitzvah!”
The woman shrugged and replaced the check in her wallet. She thanked him again and they each drove off.
Later that evening, Batya was sitting in an elegant restaurant over dinner with some corporate associates. She could not help but notice that the waitress serving her table was not the typical. In her tichel, this frum, middle-aged waitress stood out from the other young, chic staff members. What brings a woman of that age and style to assume such a position? Her curiosity was piqued and before leaving, she initiated a conversation with the woman.
The waitress explained that she was the mother of a large family and the income her husband earned was not nearly sufficient. They could hardly manage to cover their monthly expenses. This was the way she pitched in to the family finances – by going out in the evenings for the meager paycheck of a waitress.
She spoke with a smile on her face, exuding a calm acceptance of her less-than-ideal circumstances.
Utterly impressed by the waitress’s attitude, the businesswoman exclaimed, “That is special! Here,” she said as she opened her purse and pulled out a filled in check, “this is a tip for you!”
The waitress was surprised at the sum on the check. 2800 shekels! Completely above and beyond the societal norm! Before she could say a word of thanks, the woman was already out the door, on her way to her car.
The waitress returned home after finishing the night’s work, her face shining.
Tumbling over her words in her excitement, she told her husband, Yosef, “You won’t believe this! Tonight, I had the honor of serving a very wealthy businesswoman. She gave me such a large tip… I don’t think any waitress was ever so lucky!”
“How much did she give you?” her husband asked, curious.
“Before she tipped me, we had this discussion and I told her that I work to help out with the difficult financial situation at home. She was very empathetic…”
The waitress took out the check from her pocket with a flourish.
Immediately, something clicked in the husband, Yosef’s mind and he called out, “It’s 2800 shekels, right?”
To his wife’s bewilderment, he explained, “This morning, I refused to accept it, but from Above it was orchestrated for the check to arrive in the evening!”