Givers and Givers

Hamodia recently received the following, handwritten letter:

Thank you.

I am b”H blessed to be the wife of a ben Torah and a mother of two lichtige kinderlach, ba”h.

Living a kollel lifestyle is beautiful, yet could be hard when it comes to money matters. I strive for simplicity and I’m extremely careful not to spend on extras. However, I find it difficult to cut on the most basic necessity — food. My bills in the grocery were growing and growing. Recently, my bill reached close to $2,000! Glancing at the receipts just brought tension and anxiety yet no solution.

Last week when I got my delivery order I noticed something strange on my receipt — balance paid. I figured it was a mistake. When I called the grocery to verify the mistake, they said, “Someone made a payment on your account. It’s your lucky month — there’s no mistake.”

My eyes filled with tears of happiness and a grateful smile formed on my face. I understood that it must have been an organization helping out people pay up their bills in groceries.

I don’t know who you are, yet I would like to express my innermost appreciation. I am so warmed by and grateful for your tremendous chessed. May Hashem grant you continued hatzlachah in your avodas hakodesh and may He repay you kefel kiflayim.

With much appreciation,

Mrs. R.

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Mrs. R., in her moving letter, tells just half the story. She expresses the depth of her gratitude and shares how much this beautiful chessed has meant to her, a woman struggling to put food on the table. Not only was her $2,000 grocery bill erased, but her faith in the achdus of Am Yisrael was restored.

But the giver, be it an individual or an organization, also gained from this beautiful deed. As Harav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, zt”l, says in Michtav MeEliyahu, when we show mercy toward others, when we give and better their lot, we are exercising that part of us that is the tzelem Elokim. The more we give, the more we fan that Divine spark into a flame, growing closer to Hashem by emulating His ways.

More than that, we create the conditions for increased ahavas Yisrael. Rav Dessler goes on to explain that, contrary to what is commonly thought, it isn’t that we give to those we love, but that we love those to whom we give. The way to increase ahavas Yisrael is to pay attention to those around us who are in need and find ways to help them. To the extent that we give to others, we will feel connected to them; they become family.

Based on Rav Dessler’s teachings, that in giving we are actually gaining — for ourselves and for Am Yisrael — we would like to take the liberty of writing a thank-you note on behalf of the anonymous donor:

Dear Mrs. R.,

Thank you for your kind letter. It is greatly appreciated.

But it is I who must thank you. I can’t tell you how much I value and appreciate your mesirus nefesh in making it possible for your husband to continue learning full-time. Your upbeat attitude is a kiddush Hashem and will no doubt have a tremendous impact on your lichtige kinderlach.

To be honest, in accepting the assistance, you were actually meeting a need I felt to help a kollel family at this time, Erev Purim, for two reasons.

One, the entire message of Purim is “Lech knos es kol haYehudim — Go, assemble all the Jews…” Show Haman that he’s wrong in his assessment that the Jewish people are divided and therefore vulnerable. We are united. And the best way to strengthen that unity and ahavas Yisrael is through giving. Perhaps that’s why two of the mitzvos of Purim are mishloach manos and matanos la’evyonim.

Second, when Am Yisrael rejoices at the threat of extinction being lifted, the first sigh of relief relates to Torah. “LaYehudim haysah orah v’simchah v’sasson v’ykar — The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor.” As the Gemara (Megillah 16b) says, light refers to Torah. Your husband’s Torah, which is your zechus, is a beacon that shines brightly through the dark clouds of immorality that encompass us.

I cannot tell you the joy I felt in writing out that check to the grocery store and imagining the smile on your face and the happiness in your heart. The act of giving was an opportunity for me personally to become more G-d-like and to show proper appreciation for the noble Torah learners in our midst.

Reb Yid

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Hamodia would like to encourage readers who have had other “mi k’amcha Yisrael” experiences to write in and share them with our readers.

A freilichen Purim to all.