A Charity-Begins-at-Home Miracle by Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein

A Charity-Begins-at-Home Miracle by Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein

The following story appears in Aleynu Leshabeach: Wisdom, Stories, and Inspiration by Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein (Artscroll)

It is a person’s obligation to be a person of kindness at home long before going out and performing acts of kindness for those outside. It is impossible to run charity organizations outside the home while the opposite of charity is taking place inside.

A young yeshiva student, scion of a fine Bnei Brak family, spoke to me in praise of his father, a well-known man of kindness, and told of the kindness the father had done for him, the son.

The tale revealed that kindness stood at the head of the father’s list of priorities not only outside, but also with his own family.

“One Friday,” the student related, “we were to spend Shabbos with relatives in Petach Tikva. We loaded the car and set out. It was only when we arrived at our relatives’ house that I realized I’d left my hat at home. Although I am known in my family as someone for whom such things are important, I didn’t dare ask my father to travel back from Petach Tikva to Bnei Brak to get my hat.

“And then, after we’d carried our suitcases into our relatives’ house, my father himself turned to me and said, with incredible warmth, “I know your nature, and know that you won’t feel comfortable without your hat. Do you want me to go home and get it for you?

“I was stunned,. I tried to dissuade him, but he was determined to go and even quoted the verse, ‘For had we not delayed, by now we could have returned twice.’ It was a big sacrifice on my father’s part. Our family hardly ever goes away for Shabbos. Now that we finally had a chance to spend Shabbos with relatives, every minute was precious. And the first moments are the nicest.

“But my father didn’t think twice about making his offer. The moment I nodded my acceptance, we both went to the car and drove back to Bnei Brak.”

“What did my father discuss with me on the way? It’s not hard to guess. he used the opportunity to talk about the subject of kindness. He said that when a person builds a Jewish home, he must know that the greatest and most genuine acts of kindness he can do is within his own home.

“Learn from me, my dear son, how to treat children. When you are a father, G-d willing, try to treat them with kindness,” my father told me. He went on to explain that the kindness that we do within the family is considered true kindness– as opposed to acts of kindness performed outside the home. Outsiders will– on occasion– appreciate and admire the kindness done for them, and sometimes even repay it with a favor of their own. But family members do not appreciate a kindness in the same way, because it seems natural to them that their father or mother be kind and giving to them. Therefore–precisely because it goes largely unappreciated– it is considered genuine kindness.

“On this note, we arrived home.

“When we opened the door, we learned that if a person performs a kindness with sincerity and a full heart, G-d repays him, measure for measure. As we opened the door, there was a strong smell of gas. It turned out that my mother had forgotten to turn off the flame under a pot while a few eggs were cooking. The water had evaporated, the eggs and pot were completely burned, and the fire had gone out, and the gas had spread throughout the apartment.

“It is not hard to imagine what would have happened had we not returned home for my hat. Apart from the personal example I learned from my father in the matter of kindness, I now knew that you never lose by doing a mitzvah. Ever.”

Reproduced from The ArtScroll Siddur, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

photo credit: Y‚ô•YNTL via photopin cc

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2 comments

  1. Miriam Horowitz

    Wow – that is really beautiful!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing! Let’s hope the message will sink in deep enough to effect a change!

  2. I’ll always remember my mother giving in to me after I screamed for help with something. She had explained to me over and over again that she didn’t have time or energy to do this act of kindness for me (that particular day), but I really needed the help and in my limited 12 year old consciousness it just had to be that day. I begged her and begged her and didn’t relent. She finally agreed and I was so happy. Yes, I still thank her today (19 years later) because I remember it so well and the feeling of unconditional love she gave me was so strong. But I ask myself, now that I am a mother, what is the boundary of giving? How much out of our way should we go? and am I selfish just thinking of this question?

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