Over the past five years, the town of Jackson, NJ, has experienced a massive influx of frum Jews seeking housing in the vicinity of Lakewood. As is the case in many other towns in the area, the sharp increase in the Jewish population has generated no small amount of tensions between the new arrivals and the town’s existing populace.
Chezky* is one of the many Jews who came to Jackson in search of a new home for his family in a quiet, sedate neighborhood. When a house was put up for sale on a beautiful, highly sought-after block, Chezky pounced on the opportunity. Before long, the deal was closed and his family excitedly prepared to take up residence in their new home.
But Chezky was also aware of the tensions that were running high in Jackson – and he was determined to do things differently. His efforts to foster a kiddush Hashem began on the day he moved in. Arming himself with a few small platters of chocolates, Chezky began knocking on the doors of his neighbors’ homes, introducing himself and presenting the chocolates as a peace offering to each family. Along with his greeting, he assured them, “I recognize that you have lived here for many years, and I have no intention on infringing on your quality of life. If there is anything that we do that bothers you, please let us know.” Chezky continued the practice of bringing chocolates to his neighbors periodically, making sure to exchange pleasantries and small talk with them on each occasion. Over time, he and his wife developed strong relationships of mutual friendship and respect with each of the neighboring families.
One year after he arrived in the neighborhood, Chezky was informed that one of his neighbors, a man named John*, was planning to put his home up for sale. It was a large house, which made it a prime piece of real estate. Chezky wasted no time before knocking on John’s door. “I heard that you are considering moving out and selling your house,” he said, after greeting his neighbor amiably. “I have a cousin who is interested in moving to this neighborhood it would be really nice to have each other nearby. Can you keep him in mind?”
About a month later, John was ready to put his house on the market. Remembering Chezky’s request, he called his neighbor and informed him that the time had come. “Because we are so fond of you, I will offer your cousin the first viewing,” he said.
Indeed, Chezky’s cousin Berel* was invited to see the house on the day before it was placed on the market. He immediately made an offer to the seller for the full asking price, but it did not take long for John to receive another bid, for 30,000 dollars more than Berel had offered. It was clear that the property would generate enormous interest, and it seemed that Berel had no hope of purchasing it.
Berel was certainly astonished when he received a call from John’s agent, informing him that the seller had decided to accept his offer!
When he next encountered his neighbor, Chezky could not resist asking him what had motivated his decision. “It was very nice of you to accept my cousin’s offer,” he said, “but why did you do that? You gave up a huge amount of money!”
John shrugged. “I appreciate having you as a neighbor, so I wanted you to be comfortable and have your cousins next door. Life is not all about money,” he said serenely.
Indeed, John was absolutely correct: Life is not all about money. For a Jew, life is about something much greater: the imperative of kiddush Hashem. If we live our lives with the determination to foster kiddush shem shamayim, if we make the appropriate gestures and even a few small sacrifices along the way, we can truly make a difference!
There are many incredible resources from which we can learn about this all-important mitzvah and the multitude of ways we can contribute to Hashem’s honor. A Life Worth Living, a new book recently released by Artscoll Publications, is a hands-on guidebook to this mitzvah, with a wealth of incredible stories and practical applications. For more information, including free downloads of the Hebrew sefer Mekadshei Shemecha, curricula, and other materials, contact [email protected] or visit Livingkiddushhashem.com.
This story was shared by Chezky* to Rabbi Shraga Freedman author of Living Kiddush Hashem, A Life Worth Living and sefer Mekadshei Shemecha.