Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5766 - March 22, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

When Kindness Beckons, Answer the Phone - Or — Crying Over Unspilt Milk
By Lori Esses

I failed my first test this morning.

In a cozy living room in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, I sat last night in a class on Orchos Tzadikim, given by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller, and realized that while I thought I was a pretty giving person, I was not up to par to the standards that Hashem sets for us. On the way back from Jerusalem to my home in Beit Shemesh, I made a commitment to any small bouts of chessed that might come my way. We learned that to be considered a nedivah, a generous being, one has to do acts of kindness habitually, until they become manifested in the personality.

It is Hashem's will that my husband and my children are the precious sponges that soak my will to give; their needs come before others, since only I am their wife and mother, but I have noticed that I have been slipping in other realms. When the house is quiet, the dinner is made, the children are in gan or asleep, my direction turns automatically inward, and the `me' time becomes too much of a priority. I'd prefer more than anything at these times to slip myself onto the couch with a hot cup of tea and do anything mindlessly selfish.

When did I lose my tigress zeal for chessed opportunities? Did I lose it in the shifting of one domain to another, from community chessed to personal, familial chessed? Did I lose it in the morning sickness, the night feedings, and the toddler tantrums? Or did I lose it more recently in the ecstatic chaos of leaving our families and friends and moving from Brooklyn, NY to Israel? For the so many moments in the last few years, when putting myself first may have been justified (grabbing a nap while the baby was sleeping, spending the money on a new sweater to gain a feeling of freshness again, using an afternoon hour for much needed exercise instead of attending a charity function), something foreign must have seeped in. In situations that didn't warrant it, I began to feel "I'm entitled."

Look how the evil inclination sneaks in when we forget to keep a pulse on ourselves! So last night when I learned that rather than doing big bouts of chessed, sometimes it's preferrable to do small increments constantly, I took the challenge, first, in the tiniest of ways. I said that I would try to say yes, no not just yes, but YES!!! to opportunities that I may encounter. (Notice that I didn't require myself to go out with my hands filled with shopping bags of canned goods hunting for people in need, just chessed that came and sought me out.)

Hashem, in His attuned ear for our desire for growth, sent me a phone call at seven a.m. It was my neighbor Gena asking if I had spare milk to lend. Gena and I have the perfect neighbor relationship that ever existed. Ever. I love her. During the week and especially while cooking for Shabbos, we swing through one another's doors multiple times a day borrowing spare flour, oil, bread crumbs, a carrot, anything. We swap seforim, and share gems of inspirational divrei Torah on the way to errands. Though, now that I think about it, I definitely need her more than she needs me. She provides me with her daughter who is my star babysitter, and she leaves her gate open for my girls to swing in her playground. So in a way, I owe her.

So at seven she called me. Because my two oldest daughters (2 and 3 1/2) were awake and taking care of themselves (my husband had this great idea of keeping milk in cups in the refrigerator for them to serve themselves breakfast — well it worked!) and the baby was sleeping (after two night feedings), I remained like a log in bed, with my eyes shut.

The phone rang like a siren in my dream, and the conversation went something like this:

"Hello," I said groggily.

"Lori," she said in her fabulous British accent. Do you have any spare milk?"

"Mmmmmmm. Maaaaybe." (Or it might have been "Eeeeeeeeerrr maybe" or Uuuuuuuuuu maybe.")

"You're sleeping. I'm so sorry. Forget it. Bye." Hang up. "No wait, Gena—"

What I did was I closed my eyes back again and tried to catch up to my dream. Did I really need the extra six and a half minutes of sleep? Isn't Hashem the Provider of energy, and wouldn't He perhaps have bestowed me my needed lot during the day?

When I trudged out the door this morning, I gave Gena a heartfelt apology. She looked at me a bit wide eyed because of my overdramatic "I'm sorry", being unaware of my new commitment, and apologized for waking me up.

I have found in the past that the most sure-fire way to see Hashem answer your prayers to the affirmative is to pray for opportunities for spiritual growth. In my prayers for today I made sure to add in that Hashem continue to provide me more opportunities, however embarrassing my efforts have been, and He should help me use the right judgment, and have the strength to implement kindness in His world.

The day isn't over yet.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.