The Charedi Grandmother’s Surprising Offer
Yesterday, I took my 6-year-old shopping downtown, but the stores we needed had closed early, so we headed down towards Geula.
If I’d known we were going to Geula, a Charedi neighborhood, I would have made sure my neckline was a bit higher, and my daughters’ sleeves a bit longer.
But, in any case, it was a successful trip, and I found the things I was looking for. But after a while I started getting really hungry and I went into the supermarket to buy some sugar-free chocolate milk for me and Tsoofy. The cashier gave us two plastic cups, and I went over to the side of the store to pour us two cups. Tsoofy recited a blessing before she drank, at which point an elderly Charedi woman walking by us answered loudly, “Umain!”
“Geveret,” she said, as she walked over to us, and I braced myself for an impromptu mussar shmooze on the value of tsnius, but, instead, this is what she told me: “You should know that we cannot fathom the power of a child’s blessing! Children say their blessings and prayers with so much seriousness, not like us. I learned this from my father, he always told us that a child’s blessings are so much dearer to Hashem than a grown-up’s blessings.”
I thought that was quite amazing, and I told the woman so.
“Where do you live?” the woman asked.
“We live in Kiryat Moshe,” I told her, which, for Jerusalemites, generally means, “I am not Charedi.” So I was quite surprised when she responded…
“Oh, so you should know, whenever you are in Geula, and you need to borrow money or anything else, come to me, and I will give you whatever you need!” And then she told me exactly which store she lived above right on Kikar Shabbos, and told me her last name, which, for some reason, sounded strangely familiar.
I poured Tsofia some more chocolate milk, but I hadn’t realized she had bitten a hole through the bottom of the cup, and it began to spill all over her dress. The elderly woman quickly walked over to the cashier, “Yossi! Give me some paper towel! We need paper towel over here!”
After we cleaned Tsoofy up, the woman said, “You remember the tragedy that happened a few years ago?” and she reminded me of a horrific tragedy involving a Charedi family which had made headlines across the Jewish world.
“Yes, of course, I do remember.”
“The father of that family was my son. It was just the yahrzeit a few weeks ago. Hundreds of people came, it was like Meron!”
Goosebumps covered my arms.
“And don’t forget, any time you are in Geula and you need anything, money, or anything else, you can knock on my door. And I will help you…”
“May Hashem always bless you and your family from now on with happy occasions…” I said through a clenched throat.
“But even more important,” she corrected me, “may we be blessed with happy hearts. That is the most important thing of all.”
Leaving the grocery store, I felt overwhelmed by the love this rare woman had shown me and my daughter.
And it reminded me of the similarly rare outpouring of love from Jews across the world and the religious and non-religious spectrum which this mother and her family had received several years ago.
And how this woman is still reflecting that love back, to Jews like me and my daughter.
Somewhat different, but more the same.