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Seeds of Kindness

Mishpacha Readers

It was a small gesture. Yet it took root, sprouted, flourished. And became a towering tree. Twenty readers share acts of giving

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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The Carpenters of Tzfat

"E

 

 “Everything? They stole everything?” 


My husband’s voice shook as he answered. “Everything. Right down to the last drill bit.”

The previous evening my husband had, as always, left his carpentry tools on the job site in Rosh Pina when he went home to Tzfat. This morning, he returned to find the toolshed lock forced and everything gone. He reported the theft at the local police station, and then, for want of anything better to do, had come home again.
It was a disaster for us, and not only because he couldn’t continue work on that particular job.

Professional carpentry tools are expensive, and it had taken my husband years to acquire his set. With no tools, he had no way of earning a living. But without him working, there was no way we could afford to replace the tools.
As we sat staring at each other, wondering what to do next, the phone began to ring… and ring… and ring….

News travels fast in small communities. By now, all the carpenters of Tzfat had heard what had happened. One by one, every single one of them called my husband to offer condolences — and to ask what tools he could loan him. By the end of the day, he had enough tools to go back to work.

Several months later, the police notified us that all the tools had been found, in the storeroom of a thief from a nearby village. All the loaned tools were returned to their owners and my grateful husband resumed work with his own equipment. We will never forget the kindness of the carpenters of Tzfat.

— Ann Bar-Dov, Eshhar, Israel



I'm Here For You

T

here’s nothing like that moment when a newborn lets out his first cry. Like any first-time mother, I was ecstatic when I heard that sound. But there’s nothing worse than noting the doctors’ grim expressions and being told that your baby needs to be sent for further examination.

Ultimately it was nothing serious, but we still spent the week visiting the NICU and seeing our little prince attached to numerous horrible wires. It was a trying time for me in my postpartum emotional state. By night number four, I was extra tense. I called my husband Sruly, hysterical, and told him I needed him to stay for the night.

When he arrived and settled in the hospital armchair, I finally relaxed and slumbered peacefully. Sruly assured me he was comfortable and stayed for the following two nights as well, until we were finally discharged.

Weeks later, I discovered that those nights in the hospital had not been simple. Each time Sruly closed his eyes, a different nurse roused him with a reminder that it was a fire hazard for him to sleep there, lest they’d have to wake him in an emergency. So he paced the bikur cholim room and tried to lay his head on the table, in the end resorting to drinking endless cups of coffee to keep awake. Later he told me, “I never worried about the baby, but I was terribly worried about your state.”

When I see my one-year-old babbling incoherently, I barely remember those tumultuous days in the hospital. But there was one thing I gained — a newfound appreciation for my caring husband.

—Tova Schorr, Israel 

Kindness in a Basket

I

was a tall, awkward fifth-grader. Somehow, I was different. Maybe it was my penchant for big words, inherent bookishness, or rotund figure. Reading my way through recess instead of jumping rope couldn’t have been too helpful, either. I had some vague “friendlies,” but that was it.

Purim season came. The class was abuzz with girls excitedly exchanging gaily wrapped parcels. This activity was strictly illegal, but it continued unabated. Classmates would covertly exchange packages and wink their way through recess and lunchtime, expressing various code words for “yum.”

A few classmates did approach me with mishloach manos of their own. I demurred. In addition to my perpetual battle with my weight, I was also on a strict diet to manage my psoriasis, yet another bane of my existence. No white flour. That cut out everything semi-palatable for a fifth-grader with a strong aversion to vegetables. No tomatoes. There went pizza. Ditto for potatoes — kugel was banned. 

Spurning these gifts felt right, somehow. Maybe then, someone would notice me? Perhaps I’d get attention for something other than knowing the answer to that tough vocabulary word? But my heart tightened. I badly wanted those sweets; I could taste the oozing taffy on my tongue. And more than anything, I wanted to belong.

The next day, two classmates shyly gifted me with a wicker basket. Seeing the refusal written on my face, they explained: We made this just for you! Inside lay two whole wheat rolls, tuna, and some salad. I blinked back tears of gratitude — someone remembered! And amazement — someone cared! Time has erased the memory of what else was inside, but the incredible warmth I felt is a feeling I still tap into today.

A lot has changed. I morphed from an awkward fifth-grader into a successful woman. Some things, however, you don’t forget. So, Esty and Malky, wherever you are... know that your kindness so long ago has made the difference. You may not remember — but I do.

— S.G., Brooklyn

Blizzard 

H

ashem works in mysterious ways. We all know that. 

Recently, I learned it again. It had started snowing on Motzaei Shabbos, and the snow continued all Sunday. My husband, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, had a bris to perform on Tuesday morning, and I had to be sure he could get the car out. 

On Monday, I hired a couple of men to help shovel the driveway, and the job took until 4 p.m. At five, I looked out the window and saw a little blue car stuck in the snow. As I watched, two men stepped out of the car. They began shoveling the snow to free the blue car. I went outside. “Please don’t shovel that snow into my driveway,” I requested. “We worked all day to clear it.”

“Well, we have to shovel them out,” they answered. “There’s a baby in that car!”

I indicated an empty spot where they could put the snow and turned to go back inside. When I got to the porch, I thought: A baby, stuck in the bitter cold, stuck in the snow... I went back to the street and knocked on the window of the car to get the attention of the woman inside. 

“You’re welcome to come and wait in my warm house.”

She was grateful for the offer. As she walked into the house, I noticed that her coat was very bulky. 

“Is that the baby in there?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“How old is the baby?” 

“Thirteen hours,” she said.

The baby had been born at home, since 911 wouldn’t even take her call, and she couldn’t get to a hospital or a doctor. She unwrapped a beautiful baby boy with a mane of black hair. I brought out coffee and cake. She was very grateful to be safe and warm.

Then my husband came in and introduced himself: “I’m Rabbi Paysach Krohn. We’re happy to welcome you into our home.”

“Oh, my goodness!” said the new mother. “Rabbi Paysach Krohn! We wanted to call you to do the bris for our newborn son, but we didn’t have your number!”

By now the woman’s husband had safely parked the car and joined us inside. He pulled out a yarmulke, placed it on his head, and confirmed that they’d like to schedule the bris. 

They had been heading to the hospital to have her and the baby checked out. I called a local doctor, a member of Hatzolah, who came over and confirmed that the baby seemed well. A Hatzolah ambulance soon followed and took the woman, her husband, and the baby to the hospital.

Before they left, I packed up sandwiches, drinks, and snacks. They were grateful for kosher food and told me the next day that, due to the snowstorm, the hospital had no food deliveries and there was no food to be had for anyone. 

The next Monday, the bris was held, with much simchah. The baby’s name?

Raphael. What else?

Today, Raphael is growing nicely, having gotten an unusual start as a full member of the Jewish faith. 

— Mrs. Miriam Krohn, Kew Gardens, NY


(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 577)

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