“My! You’re tense!” I exclaimed, as I felt the nervous energy emanating from her arms. “Yeah,” she said, “Bad week.” She disappeared into the station and I headed off to catch the D train a block away.
A week later, we met again. “How are you?” Simi asked me as we found ourselves talking once again outside the conference room. “How was your week?”
“My week was fine,” I responded. “And how are you? Last week you said you had a hard week. Was this week better?”
“Yes!” she said enthusiastically. “Don’t I look better?” Indeed, she did look a lot more relaxed than she had the week before.
“You know,” she told me, “I was so touched that you waited for me last week. That’s actually what started the turn-around for me and paved the way for a good week.”
I was floored. “Thank you so much for telling me!” I exclaimed. “I had no idea!” I stood there with my mouth open and eyes aglow. It took me about five minutes to process the information; I was on a total high.
I had been the catalyst to turn around a person’s week?! I couldn’t believe it. Me? Little me? And with such a little action that I did because I wanted to? Gosh! I had no idea that the effects of such an insignificant action would create such a powerful ripple effect!
I stood there for the next five minutes profusely thanking her for letting me know. Indeed, I realized ironically, she had returned the favor. Now it was my turn to head back home, spirits lifted; I was floating on cloud nine.
Suddenly I felt so big and so small all at once. I was humbled and gratified by the power of an incident I could barely wrap my mind around. This was just too big for me –and yet it was so common and so simple. The power of a little action increases exponentially, I realized. There was no way I would have ever imagined a three minute wait as a means to change someone’s week. And I didn’t even do it for her! I mused. I did it for myself. I wanted her company because I enjoyed talking to her. But, hey! I suddenly realized. Isn’t that the best kind of chesed – when the recipient feels like you’re extending yourself because you like her? Indeed, to be liked is to be loved. The people I feel most grateful for are those who display a genuine and obvious interest in me. It sure makes me feel cherished.
Is this what giving feels like? I wondered. Why, it’s just amazing!
And suddenly, my eyes were open wide, peeled for any and every person I could help—even if it meant telling others how much they helped me. I was so grateful for the feedback I had gotten and I was determined to continue the ripple effect.
The train chugged along until it reached my stop. I stepped off the train, a new person. I had a purpose in this world. My actions were significant. Hashem had used me as a messenger to help another person —or was it perhaps to help me? Maybe, I thought slowly, as my eyes lit up one watt brighter. Light was beginning to dawn as I suddenly understood: I had reached a milestone. My dream had come true. I had become a rebbetzin; I had changed a world.