Blizzard Kindnesses

Blizzard Kindnesses

“I just heard about a sick mother who has been stuck inside her freezing cold apartment with 4 small children for 5 days! Could you please buy her a radiator and bring it to her, and I’ll pay you back afterwards?”

“No problem…” I said.

But it sort of WAS going to be a problem. How would I possibly manage to shlep a heavy radiator from the store to this needy mother’s home over two blocks of slippery packed snow and ice? I wasn’t sure…

But hopeful I’d figure out a way, this morning I entered the small, Made-in-China, 199.99 electronics store, and it was as though I had left the North Pole behind and had parachuted into the belly of the Amazon Basin. The sounds of birds and parrots a-chirping and a-squawking filled the store.

I asked the owner if he had a radiator on sale, and he went into his storage room to bring out his last one in stock (b”H!). The salesman was such a frum guy that he looked down when he answered my questions instead of looking at me. But in addition to being very machmir on shmirat aiynayim, he did something very funny as well—he chirped! Yep, as he walked around the store, he chirped like a bird. And how could he not? He spent his whole day in the belly of the Amazon Basin more often in the company of birds than human beings.

And I thought:
Just as water reflects the face, so one heart reflects another.

So I paid for the radiator, and out of nowhere a young grandfather in a long dignified Chassidic coat and peyos down to his shoulders offered to shlep the radiator for me on the cart the storeowner lent me. I walked behind the Chassid as he slipped and slid over the icey alleyways with the radiator, but he was undeterred, and instructed me to walk close to the wall so I wouldn’t fall like him.

What a wonderful thing, I thought. The woman who called me was doing an act of chesed for a stranger, and I was helping her, and here this other stranger was offering to complete the act of chesed for all of us. He even insisted on walking back to return the cart to the store when he was done.

A lot of people are having such a hard time this blizzard, and at the same time so many people are coming out of the woodwork to help one another make it through this storm to the other side.

Just as water reflects the face, so one heart reflects another.

So I found the apartment and greeted the young mother inside with her four children small children.

I actually met this mother briefly this past summer. I remember how she had looked like a force to be reckoned with in her long sheitl and fashionable denim skirt and working-woman manicured nails. A fiercely devoted mother who would do anything for her kids.

But this morning, that Woman of Iron from this past August had been replaced by a pale woman in a torn snood and a comic-book sweatshirt.

I found out from the concerned woman who called me last night that this mother has had a very hard life and has been through an extremely rough period recently. A few days ago she was hospitalized for pneumonia from which she has not fully recovered and a few weeks before that she had seriously considered fleeing to a shelter for battered women after she was threatened by the husband she is trying to divorce.

By this morning, she and her kids had spent 5 days straight inside their cramped, dark, cold apartment. And the mother was snapping at her kids and they were snapping at her and at each other.

It was striking for me to see…how the mother’s sickly, depressed, overwhelmed state infected her entire family.

And how could it not?

Just as water reflects the face, so one heart reflects another.

So I offered to walk her kids over to an activity for children in their neighborhood shul. And as we walked I tried to smile at the kids and compliment them and listen carefully to their stories, since I suspect that their mother despite her best intentions hasn’t been up to doing these things over the past few weeks.

And I felt grateful that I’m not facing the same challenges as this struggling young mother, and also grateful that I was able to help her out on my own microscopic level. And also suddenly aware of the responsibility I have in my own home with my own children to be the kind of mother I would like to have, because

Just as water reflects the face, so one heart reflects another.

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3 comments

  1. Chaya Rivka Carasso

    This is such a beautiful story. I love that so many people helped bring warmth to the mother and children, people who didn’t even know them, but knew someone need the warmth of the radiator, and warmth of Hashem, both physical and spiritual warmth. This is a very special lesson.

    We see from this blizzard how Hashem sets up a situation where people become cold, but through the difficulty, they help each other to be warm.

    Thank you

  2. Beautiful Jenny. Yashir koach and mazel tov! Ad 120 doing mitzvahs and growing each day!

  3. This proves that we can never judge the person behind the payos, sheitel, or even miniskirt. If anything, I tend to judge people by their actions, but never by what I see externally.

    By your actions, I know that you are a beautiful woman!

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