The last few weeks, since my car crashed into the front of a store on Central Avenue, have been truly inspiring. As I wrote in my original article, “Miracle on Central Avenue” (September 19 5TJT), a car had swerved in front of me, causing me to crash into a store. A few minutes after the crash, a friend of mine stopped by and whispered in my ear, “Tzedakah tatzil mi’maves”–charity saves lives. This same friend had called me a few days earlier to help him pay his electric bill, which had been turned off, and I paid part of his bill. What a clear sign from Hashem: a few hundred dollars had saved me.
A few weeks later, I collected money for this same friend to make yom tov. I reasoned that if he couldn’t afford to pay his electricity bill, then most certainly he would be unable to afford a proper yom tov. The Monday before Rosh Hashanah, I called him and asked him to come over to my house. When he arrived at my door, he was quite despondent. He explained to me that his wife was at home crying. His wife was switching jobs after yom tov and her current boss had previously agreed to pay her for an extra week after Yom Kippur as severance. That day, her boss informed her that she would not be receiving the extra week’s salary; she came to the realization that they could no longer afford to make yom tov. I conveyed my sympathies and handed him a $750 check. As he looked at the check, he froze for a moment, turned to me, and said, “My wife makes $750 a week.” We both found ourselves at a loss for words. It was crystal-clear to both of us that Hashem is running the show and placing his stamp of approval upon us. My friend gave me a huge hug and said, “You just made yom tov for us. Thank you so much.”
I spent the entire night trying to figure out what was going on. These are the type of things I read about in storybooks. When I relayed this story to a friend, he told me, “You should check your mezuzos. Something is going on with you.” Another friend suggested I fly to Eretz Yisrael to ask Rav Chaim Kanievsky what to do, but I didn’t think my wife would be so excited with me taking off to Israel for a few days, so that wasn’t an option.
The next day the message was made clear: “Mitzvah goreres mitzvah”–“One good deed leads to another.” I had received an amazing eâ€‘mail signed by a friend of mine.
Thank you for your inspiring story. I received a text this week from a friend to help contribute towards the expenses of a struggling family (the fathers themselves are talmidei chachamim). I was initially hesitant as I have my own expenses which need to be paid–but after reading your story I called up the friend that texted me and I told him to count me in.
I read it and was amazed by his story. Coincidentally, we are part of the same yeshiva, and after reading his message I went to the beis midrash and found him there. I approached him and said, “What an eâ€‘mail.” He had no clue what I was talking about. I said, “The eâ€‘mail to C.G.” He was shocked. He could not believe that he had been unaware that his friend came so close to losing his life. He told me that he had not written the most incredible part of the story in the eâ€‘mail.
“How much more siyatta d’Shmaya can I handle?” I said in jest.
He then told me that when he called his friend to inform him that he was ready to commit himself to help the needy family, the person collecting the money said, “While I have you on the line, I want to ask you a favor. Do you know ‘Ploni’?” When my friend responded that he did indeed know Ploni, the collector went on to tell him that Ploni “looks so down lately, maybe you want to call him.” My friend replied, “Actually, Ploni’s wife called me six weeks ago asking me to learn with her husband because he was starting to slip away from Yiddishkeit.” Immediately after he hung up the phone, my friend called Ploni to come over and learn with him. My friend related that he and Ploni had just learned together for the past hour-and-a-half, and they arranged a time to learn together every week.
“Mitzvah goreres mitzvah”–one good deed leads to another. I did a small chesed to help a friend pay his bill, which eventually led to a different friend donating money to a talmid chacham, which led him to start learning with a Yid who felt lost. We learn from this a powerful lesson: a mitzvah that may seem small can cause a ripple effect around the world.
It was amazing how some people were inspired by the story. An 11-year-old student in my class brought in $18 of singles and a lot of change in an envelope on which he wrote, “This is for the person that couldn’t pay his bills.” Then his mother sent in a check for the families we are trying to help.
There was another person who told me that he started collecting money for talmidei chachamim because he was inspired by the story.
I just want to finish with a few words from Aruch Hashulchan (247:5), which one of our supporters showed me. “The world is a revolving door. Even if you have money one day, you might not have another, or one day your son or a grandchild might be poor. If one gives tzedakah properly, he can be assured that his offspring won’t be poor; it’s like an insurance policy.” Then he ends, “I have a tradition that anyone who gathers money for the poor is guaranteed that all the generations which come from him will never need to collect money for themselves.”
I want to publicly thank Gourmet Glatt Emporium for teaming with us to help families that can’t pay their bills; our supporters; our financial advisor for giving his services free of charge for these families; and our rabbanim who guide us in the tzedakah. If you would like to help us in this incredible mitzvah, please eâ€‘mail email@example.com.