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A Fine Kettle of Fish

Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman

The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


ften, our magazine covers feature a serious-looking askan. The text splashed across his yarmulke reads, “The man who singlehandedly saved Yeshivah XYZ from bankruptcy!” And when you turn to the story, you realize this man is certainly worthy of our praise; you could never imagine yourself raising $14 million.

Stories about Jewish heroes appear in countless books and on countless magazine covers. However, it’s often the small things in life that really pull at my heartstrings.

Ari and Faigy Leiter (parents of Binyamin, see Mishpacha Issue 723) are good friends of mine. Ari is a hardworking man who teaches challenged children full-time in the Passaic Public School system. After arriving home, he then works an additional five hours in his brother’s pizza store. Ari works hard and considers it a privilege to support his family in an honorable way.

Faigy is also a chesed-doer.

Recently the Leiters proved to me, once again, how the “minor,” almost pedestrian chasadim, are often the most meaningful.

I returned home from my grandson’s bar mitzvah in Yerushalayim on Thursday, January 3.

My wife remained an extra Shabbos, and arrived back on Monday morning January 7 at 4:30 a.m. After a quick stop at home, she headed right back out again to go to work.

I’d received a text the previous day, on Sunday, which stated, “Faigy and I are sure that by the time your wife gets home from work she won’t be in the mood to start cooking dinner. Can we bring over dinner for you tomorrow on Monday?”

Many times Jewish communities have organized meal trains where sick people, or aveilim, or a woman after birth receives supper for the family for a week or two. This is nothing new and exists in most Jewish neighborhoods.

However, this was different. Here was a couple who were truly looking for a chesed to do.

They understood how grueling a 12-hour flight can be.

They thought long and hard how to lend a hand in any way they could.

They realized that with my wife working a full day after a 12-hour flight, to relieve her of the chore of dinner would be greatly appreciated.

That Monday evening, two beautifully created salmon salads arrived at our front door. As my wife and I began to eat, we both realized how hungry and tired we both were. That salmon tasted as if it came from Gan Eden.

This small, carefully thought-out gesture of kindness by people who really care and think about us was highly valued. And because it was not the “well-known” and often overlooked act of kindness, it meant so much to me.

I imagine that the actual making of the salmon salad was not a major project as it was prepared in their Prima Pizza shop. And I know this story will not appear on the cover of any magazine or book. The chesed was not a million-dollar gift to a cash-strapped mossad, and the food did not save us from starvation.

What made their food gift so special was the thought they put into “How can we help the Rabbi and his wife live a little easier?” 

This is the type of chesed truly worthy of being in “The Book” that counts.

Also included in this special Book are those people who refuse to double-park even to let their husband out of the car for Minchah. Another chapter can be devoted to those who put their siddurim away and throw away their used tissues.

These unseen and unknown chesed people are also true Jewish heroes, as He sees all.

And in my entire life, salmon never tasted as good as it did on that Monday evening in January.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 749)


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