O n the day of my wedding, I went to the Kosel to daven — and also to invite my friends to my wedding. I was a frequent visitor at the Kosel, having done 40 consecutive days numerous times, and I was friendly with all the unfortunate women there who begged for handouts. Before each of my trips to the Kosel, I would prepare a handful of change, which I would distribute along with some cheery words. Sure enough, all of these women attended my wedding.

They weren’t the only ones who had been the recipients of my largesse. In school, I was the friend of all the girls who had no friends. I was the only one who had patience to listen to girls who were intellectually slow or socially challenged, and I would nod along with them and pay rapt attention even when I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say.

At home, too, I was the consummate giver. My parents were American baalei teshuvah who had moved to Eretz Yisrael before it was fashionable, and although they were generous people who wanted their children to have whatever they needed, the reality was that they didn’t have enough money to go around. I was at the younger end of the family, and by the time I reached adolescence, my parents were so knee-deep in debt from my siblings’ weddings that I didn’t dare ask them for anything.

Throughout my school years, I worked to pay for my own expenses. I cleaned people’s houses. I babysat. I bubby-sat, too, earning money for sleeping at the home of an elderly woman who needed companionship at night. At the same time, I was practically running my parents’ household, because home management wasn’t my mother’s strong point.

I made enough money not only to bankroll my own clothing and outings, but also to buy presents for my siblings and friends and give them a good time. I threw lavish birthday parties, and treated my friends to trips and restaurant outings. I loved the feeling of being generous. Whatever I earned, I spent.

At the age of 18, I was redt to a young man named Yerachmiel who was significantly older than me. He’d been having a hard time in shidduchim because of his severe stutter, and when we met, he was barely able to get a word out of his mouth.

Who’s going to marry him? I asked myself. Who but I, the friend of the downtrodden, the patron of the needy.

I married Yerachmiel because he had a good heart, because he was intelligent — and because he needed me. My parents married off three children the year I got married, and when my turn came, there was not a penny left. Not only did Yerachmiel’s parents pay for the wedding, but Yerachmiel — who was already working as a sofer — actually gave me money to pay for my own bridal purchases.

Right after our wedding, when he saw the purchases I had made, he concluded that frugality was not my strong point. Concerned that I would overspend and put us into debt, he went with me to the bank to close down my bank account, and arranged for my salary from my job working in a preschool to go into his bank account. He also deposited all of our wedding money in his account.

When I needed to take a bus, he would give me exact change for the bus fare. Whenever it was possible to walk, he would insist that I walk rather than pay for the bus. If we were outside and I said I was thirsty, he would tell me, “Wait till we get home to take a drink. Bottled water is a waste of money.” If I cut a generous piece of Scotch-Brite to scour my pots, he would tell me I should have used a smaller piece.

One night, very early on in our marriage, I turned on the hot water boiler and forgot to turn it off. The next day, he lectured me about how much it costs to run the boiler. “How could you be so irresponsible?” he chided. “The boiler has to be on for no more than half an hour for a shower.” From then on, I turned on the boiler for no more than half an hour, even though it meant cold showers most of the time.

When I complained about the cold showers, he said I just liked to complain. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 666)