July 6, 2009 7:49 pm at 7:49 pm #589993jewishfeminist02Member
I want to share a story that just happened to me in the hope that others will be inspired by it. I think it really illustrates that mitzvot have more power than we often realize.
I have an elderly neighbor- let’s call her Menucha- whose husband died of cancer almost two years ago. When her husband first got sick, he was no longer able to walk their dog as he used to, and she walks with a cane and couldn’t do it either. My mother said to Menucha, “I don’t know anything about dogs, but I do know about husbands who have cancer. I’ll be happy to walk your dog if you explain to me what to do.” She’s been walking the dog ever since. That was the beginning of our relationship with Menucha. I don’t think any of us realized how far it would go.
Last summer, I signed up for a four-week program in LA but didn’t have anything structured for the rest of the summer. I figured I would need the time to plan for Israel as well as my brother’s Bar Mitzvah. I did do a lot of planning, but I still ended up sitting at home bored a lot (my mom works during the day and I share a car with her.) Menucha has a car but can no longer drive. She asked me to drive her around on errands. I spent a lot of time taking her to various doctor’s appointments as well as the supermarket, etc. This was great for both of us because I had the time to chauffeur her around and she really needed the help.
Menucha is now a dear friend who comes to our family simchas. She was at my high school graduation party and my brother’s Bar Mitzvah, and she is planning to come to my brother’s play this summer. My mother told me that during the year I spent in Israel, every time she came to walk the dog Menucha would ask about me.
We invited Menucha for Shabbos lunch this past week. While my mom was on the phone with Menucha, Menucha asked my mom if she could drive her to the supermarket on Friday morning. My mom had a haircut appointment and was trying to figure out how she could coordinate the timing so as to drop off Menucha at the supermarket and be back in time to pick her up, not c”v leaving her stranded with a grocery cart and no way to get home. Later, it occurred to her that I could take Menucha in her own car.
This all worked out so perfectly. I have a job this summer, and I normally work until 2:00 on Fridays, so under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been able to take her. Last week, though, I had Friday off because it was July 4th weekend. I had been looking forward to having the whole day to prepare Shabbos since we were having a lot of company, and if I had known that I wouldn’t have that much time, I would have started cooking on Wednesday night or Thursday night. But late Thursday night when my mom asked me if I could help Menucha, I said “Of course!” So my mom went off to her haircut without having to rush, and I went across the street to Menucha’s apartment. She said hello and asked “So how much time do you have?” My mom had said it would just be a quick shopping trip, but I smiled and said “As much time as you need!” It turned into nearly an all-day affair. I took Menucha to Target for some home accents she needed, then to Rite-Aid to pick up a medication refill, then to a postal store to get keys made, then to a deli to buy frozen food. She insisted on taking me out to lunch before we finally did the grocery shopping. Menucha kept checking her watch and asking me if I needed to get home, and I reassured her every time that I would stay with her as long as she needed me. Imagine, this elderly woman who lost her husband of fifty-plus years not very long ago, who has many health issues and cannot do much independently anymore, and she is worrying about me! When we walked into Rite-Aid, she commented that the pharmacy section was “all the way at the back of the store”. Rite-Aid is not a very big place; you could even see the pharmacy from where we were standing at the front, but to her it seemed like a long walk. Given all this, I couldn’t believe how concerned she was for me.
“What can I bring for you tomorrow?” Menucha asked me in the car at one point, and I told her that she didn’t have to bring us anything.
“I know, your mother already told me it’s not necessary, but I want to give you something. How about a cake?” I told her I was already making a cake, but if she really wanted to bring something we could use a salad. When we got to the deli she told me to pick out anything I wanted.
Here’s the part that amazes me the most. When I dropped Menucha off at her home at 3:15, she pulled out her wallet and asked me how much money she should pay me for the day. I told her I really didn’t need any money and that I had enjoyed spending the day with her, but she said she felt she had to pay me something and asked how much I would charge if I were babysitting. I didn’t feel like I had been “babysitting” Menucha at all, but I told her that babysitting clients usually pay me about $6 an hour.
“Well, let’s see. You picked me up at 10:00ish, and it’s now 3:00ish…” Menucha figured. “So five hours times $6 an hour would be $30. I’ll give you $35,” she announced, and pulled the money out of her wallet.
“But you also bought me lunch!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, well, we can take that into consideration. Your lunch was probably around $10, so added to what I just gave you, that makes $45. Are you sure that’s enough?” Menucha asked worriedly. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and didn’t know what to say.
“I’ll tell you what,” Menucha said. “When I get inside, I’ll call my daughter and ask her what she thinks of that. If she says I should pay you more, then I’ll give you more the next time I see you.”
Dumbfounded, I pocketed the money (what else could I do?) and proceeded to help her carry her purchases inside her apartment. When everything was put away, she gave me a hug and started crying, saying that I had done so much for her and she was so grateful. Honestly, it felt like the other way around.
When I finally got back to my house, I had four and a half hours to cook for Shabbos. (My mom is usually crazy busy during the week, so I do almost all the cooking.) This was a less than ideal week for me to be behind on the cooking, since we were having company, but I never regretted having helped Menucha. My mom came home early enough to make one dish, and I even enlisted my brother’s help chopping vegetables. Somehow, I pulled everything together in time for Shabbos. There was no time to wash the kitchen floor because I finished cooking with only a few minutes to spare, but at least we had food to put on the table.
Yes, Friday afternoon was very stressful. I was running around in a frenzy, pulling ingredients and utensils out of different corners of my kitchen, and I must have looked like a maniac, but it was all worth it. I have never managed to do so much in so little time before, and I’m confident that Hashem helped me speed things along because He knew that I had something very important to do before. On Shabbos afternoon, when we were sitting around the table eating lunch with Menucha and our other guests, I thought proudly that my food had never tasted so good before.
I know this is a really long story, so thank you if you’ve read it this far. I just thought I would share it because I was so amazed that Menucha thought I had done her such a huge favor when really, she was the one who showed me that one little mitzvah can lead to so much more.
One last thing: As I mentioned before, my mom has a very busy schedule. She holds down three part-time jobs and has the added responsibility of singlehandedly raising my brother and me. She could easily have told Menucha, “Sorry, but I just don’t have time to walk your dog. Go find someone else.” And then where would we be now??July 7, 2009 4:41 am at 4:41 am #1034545oomisParticipant
Great story, and what a wonderful point to be made! It was WELL worth the read. Mitzvah goreres mitzvah.July 7, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am #1034546NobodyMember
Not only a great story but a wonderful reflection on how your mother brought you up.
You can you be proud of your mother’s efforts to support you and your brother and she can be proud of how you treat others, how you see beyond the staggeringly obvious and of your eloquent words.July 9, 2009 4:20 pm at 4:20 pm #1034547d aMember
jewishfeminist02, keep up the great work!!! What you and your family are doing for “Menucha” is amazing! May Hashem give you the Koach to continue doing only the correct things! Through your mitzva, you have brought Moshiach a lot closer!July 10, 2009 4:58 am at 4:58 am #1034548bein_hasdorimParticipant
jewfem02: doing chessed like this is one of the thing that
make Klal Yisroel so wonderful.
I just wanted to point out that although doing chessed when one
has time on their hands is very wonderful, however when one has
to attend to his own needs & still puts another yid first,
& doesn’t get nervous or frustrated when it cuts into his time,
& doesn’t regret offering the help they did.
This is called Super Chessed! I cannot begin to describe how
Chashuv this is in the Eyes of HB”H.
The S’char,(reward) for this Mitzvah of Chesed is truly Astounding.
For many of these times the Yetzer gets the better of us & we start
to get frustrated if we have to be somewhere
& it takes longer than expected.July 10, 2009 6:02 pm at 6:02 pm #1034549povertyMember
thank you for the great story and lesson!!!October 6, 2014 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm #1034550☕ DaasYochid ☕Participant
Beautiful story.October 6, 2014 1:22 pm at 1:22 pm #1034551cozimjewishMember
Jewishfeminist – wow. Wow. Wow. You inspire me. I don’t understand how you could keep saying what an amazing person Menucha is, when you were so pressed for time. I would have been stressed out of my mind! (Not too mention, I probably wouldn’t have done all that chessed in the first place). You are an amazing person. I’m jealous of your share in Olam Haboh.October 6, 2014 3:25 pm at 3:25 pm #1034552ivoryMember
Ok since this story was bumped from five years ago…. How’s Menucha? Where’s jewish feminist up to in life?October 6, 2014 3:55 pm at 3:55 pm #1034553jewishfeminist02Member
Menucha’s health is declining, unfortunately, and my mother stopped walking the dog on the advice of Menucha’s eldest son, since the dog was having behavioral issues and Menucha’s frustration led her to blame my mother. We are still in touch, but sadly not as close as we used to be. I am now married and living in a different city, so I don’t have the opportunity to see Menucha as often (of course, she has difficulty traveling.)
However, for some good news, since this thread was originally posted Menucha has B”H become a great-grandmother!October 7, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am #1034554SayIDidIt™Participant
That was an amazing story! You must be a really special person! I wish I could do half of that!
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