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Here to Serve You

Barbara Bensoussan

Whether Moish Binik is picking up the dinner tab for a group of dropouts, handing out vouchers for a family who can’t afford groceries, opening his basement to kids on the street, or creating a low-markup supermarket where people can still breathe after checkout, he’s living the maxim that people who give away everything are really the most full.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

“You’re going to throw away all those papers, right?” asksMosheBinik, gesturing toward a reporter’s notebook with a twinkle in his brown eyes. He means: You’re not really going to publish something about me, are you?Pirkei Avos tells us that those who run away from honor will receive it in the end. That lesson could have been written for Moshe Binik, who is still trying to run from his many accomplishments. In an unassuming yet unceasing manner, he has dedicated himself to the needs of the community for decades, an askan when nobody talked about askanus. His chasadim range from opening his home for the mitzvah of bikur cholim and to teenage runaways, to establishing discount groceries for kollel families, to setting up lounges for at-risk boys. An early member of Hatzolah, he also founded yeshivos and kollelim.Brooklyn is so dense that I’d never met Mr.Binik, despite the fact that I live around the corner. But I’d heard the whispers from friends: “That’s MosheBinik’s house, my son used to sleep there when he was off the derech;” or “That’s where the Biniks live, you know, the guy who started the kollel store.” SinceMosheBinik is indeed the owner of the mammoth KRM Kollel Supermarket in Boro Park and Moisha’s Discount Supermarket in Flatbush, I’d always assumed that behind the plain façade of his brick two-family house I would find sculpted European furniture and plush carpets.Well, gentle reader, what a surprise I had to enter and find myself in a living space more typical of a yeshivah rebbi than a prosperous balabos. There’s a well-used dining room table and crammed breakfront. “You see that couch?” saysRebbetzinBrachieSpira, one of the Binik’s four daughters, pointing to a yellow couch covered in plastic near the window. “My parents have had that couch ever since they got married.”Living rooms speak louder than words.MosheBinikis the kind of shrewd businessman who is able to bring in money, yes. And then he turns around and joyfully gives it away, confident in the belief that it only came in for redistribution.

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