It’s something we probably don’t appreciate enough. Being part of a community so eager to perform acts of chesed for each other. In times of celebration, and G-d forbid, times of tragedy, it is extremely heartwarming when friends and neighbors are eager to help share the burden and make things easier.
When each of our children were born and during difficult times as well, neighbors and friends offered to make us meals, help with carpool, invite our other children, etc. “Please let me know what I can do for you. I really mean it.” “We want to help; what can we do?” How great it is to be part of Klal Yisrael – a nation built on chesed and caring.
But there is even a step above. There are those who don’t ask what they can do, rather they try to anticipate how they can be helpful and just do it.
When our son Shimshon Dovid was born 10 years ago during this time of year, it was during days of teacher meetings, just prior to the beginning of the new school year. As can be imagined, between the new baby and running back and forth to the hospital I hardly had any time, and surely not to work on any new school-related programs.
On the day before the school year began, as I was walking towards my classroom, my dear friend and, at that time my colleague in Ashar, Rabbi Yosef Bendrihem, told me that he wanted to show me something in the room. He explained that instead of getting me an outfit for our new son, he decided to give me a more unique present. He then walked over to the closet in my classroom and opened it up to reveal shelves stocked with sodas, taffies, and all sorts of nosh. He then handed me a stack of “Ashar dollars,” i.e., photocopied one-dollar bills with the Ashar logo in the middle.
I was speechless. I had mentioned to Rabbi Bendrihem at the end of the previous year that I had wanted to initiate this new incentive program for my class, which included creating “Ashar dollars.” He realized that I would not have the chance to create it, so he did it for me, including creating a template for the dollars, which definitely took some time which he could have used to prepare his own classes.
It was the greatest gift I personally received then, because it was something that I really wanted/needed and was not able to take care of myself. Had he asked me if he should do it for me, I undoubtedly would have told him not to, not wanting to bother him so much. But he didn’t ask. He knew it’s what I wanted and he took the initiative and did it for me.
It’s one thing to offer another to “tell me whatever you need.” It’s another thing to offer specific help. “When can I take your kids?” “I am going to get haircuts for my sons, should I take yours too?” “I am going shopping now. What am I getting for you?” etc.
We all seek G-d’s favor and kindness during the Days of Judgment. One of the greatest ways to curry that favor is to demonstrate it ourselves. When we live beyond ourselves then we are truly living a worthy life, and then we are justified in asking G-d to continue to grant us life, so that we can fulfill His Will, and help others.