Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A True Story

As Chaim’s luxury home in Bnai Brak neared completion he looked forward to planning the housewarming ceremony. He spoke to caterers, asked various rabbis to make speeches, and drew up the guest list. Heading the list were his parents but his father made a stipulation.

“I will only come,” he said, “If you find two needy orphans and take care of all their needs so they can marry and build their own home.”

As a pious Jew, Chaim scrupulously followed the commandment to honor one’s father and mother. Besides which, he understood the importance of supporting the poor and doing acts of kindness. So he found two orphans. Yankel and Zissel were Chassidic and would not agree to accept Chaim’s sponsorship without first asking their rebbe.

A messenger was sent to the rebbe and he came back with the answer that Zissel had an older brother and he should marry before her. Chaim didn’t like that response and insisted on meeting with the rebbe without an intermediary.

“Does Zissel’s brother have an intended?” Chaim asked.

The rebbe shook his head. “Not yet.”

“Here we have two Jews who want to marry and someone who wants to help them do so. Why should they wait?”

The rebbe, who was all of nineteen years old, heard the logic of Chaim’s words and agreed to the plan. Chaim took care of everything. Yankel and Zissel were full of appreciation but after a year or so decided they couldn’t manage in Israel and moved to America. Through the years Chaim lost contact with them. 

Of course that’s not the end of the story. Time passed and Chaim became ill. He had cancer and the situation was grim.

“Go to America,” he was told. “Go see Dr. X. He’s the world expert.”

Chaim and his wife left for America.  They could afford first-class tickets and a five-star hotel. However, money couldn’t get them an appointment with Dr. X. They were told there was one man, Jack Rothchild, who had an excellent connection with the doctor.

“Make an appointment with Mr. Rothchild,” Chaim was told. “He’ll hear your story and if he thinks it’s worthwhile he’ll get you in to see Dr. X.”

Naturally Jack Rothchild was none other than Yankel, the orphan, who’d made it big in America.  He hadn’t forgotten his benefactor and in no time Chaim was sitting in Dr. X’s office undergoing a thorough examination.

“I can’t do anything more for you here than the doctors in Israel,” he was told. “Go home. With G-d’s help you’ll be fine.”

“May you be blessed,” Yankel said, “because of all the good you did for me. After a week of treatment may you have a full recovery.”

Yankel’s blessing was fulfilled. After just a week of treatment in Israel Chaim’s prognosis changed one hundred and eighty degrees. He was given an additional twenty-five years of life. In those years he merited numerous acts of kindness, including the establishment of a worldwide data bank of bone marrow donors.

This story was told to my friend by Chaim’s brother after his recent death. Having only heard it third hand it’s likely some of the details aren’t one hundred percent accurate and therefore all the names have been changed. What hasn’t been changed is the message.

We learn in the Sayings of our Fathers, chapter two, verse one, Consider three things, and you will not come into the grip of sin: Know what is above you- a watchful Eye, an attentive Ear, and all your deeds are recorded in a Book. None of our good deeds are forgotten. Some are rewarded in this world and some in the world to come.

Obviously Chaim reaped benefits for his acts of kindness in our world. No doubt he’s receiving more in the world of truth. May his memory be for a blessing.

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