Tales of Tzedekah - 2
In honor of the second light of Chanukah, which we light this evening in addition to the first light, I will share with you the following story which I received from a Hazon participant:
My parents often invited in guests--homeless and others in need. When I was in the dormitory of Yeshiva University, they rented my room to a girl my sister found at the local university who kept kosher and needed a kosher home. There were times that I did not have my bed but used the couch which was very uncomfortable. When this guest graduated, I figured I would have my bed back, but when I came home the first time after her graduation, my bed was taken over by a homeless 17 year old Jewish girl who had been kicked out of her parents' home because she had given birth to a baby out of wedlock. So again, I headed for the couch. When I complained, my parents and sister were amazed. My sister said, "I thought you would be happy to be able to have the mitzvah of chesed (lovingkindness) 'for free' by giving up your bed!" So I decided to pull rank and go to my grandfather. I started by telling him how bad the beds were in the dormitory in Yeshiva and how I look forward to sleeping in my own bed back home. I only said a few words when he interrupted me and quoted the Mishnah from Pirkei Avos which teaches that in order to acquire Torah, one must be prepared to do the following, if necessary: "Eat bread with salt, drink bitter water, and sleep on the ground!" Then I started to say how my parents always have some guest, and I therefore do not have my own bed to sleep in. But immediately after the word "guest" my grandfather interrupted me again and said, "Isn't it wonderful how much chesed your parents do! Just like Avraham, our father!" So without even finishing my sentence, I realized there was nothing I could say or do. But my grandfather had given me an idea--I took my blankets off the couch and slept on the floor (like it says in Pirkei Avos). And it really worked! The couch was very soft and lumpy and my back killed me and was quite painful. Sleeping on the floor, however, was really comfortable. So it worked out after all. Years later when I finally did get my bedroom back, I felt guilty--why couldn't I sleep on the living room floor and get the mitzvah of chesed (for free)?--just like Avraham, our father!
Thank G-D my parents, sister (may she live and be well--she is very sick with cancer and pneumonia, r"l), and grandparents eventually taught me the correct ideas and views. You may feel free to pass this to others (or edit it if you wish) if you do not use my name. But I would appreciate it if you could add that the merit of this story should be for a refuah shleimah - complete healing - for my sister Chaya Chana Yehudis bas Rus.
May we be blessed with a healing and happy Chanukah!
Hazon - Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/