Taking a Dose of our Own MedicineIf you've heard me/us say "strengthen yourself in some area to be the k'li for the bracha/ pidyon nefesh, etc....Know that we mean it, and often do the same.
This is a true story. It happened to us just last night. May it be a lesson for us all.
BackstoryIt all begins with the sudden departure of a generous donor and ends with a kallah named "Mazal."
|Mazal and her beautiful ring|
However, we both had that uneasy feeling we'd not fulfilled the mitzvah of Chachnasat Orchim (hospitality to guests) as well as we should have. Perhaps we spread ourselves too thin, perhaps because we didn't know they were vegetarians (why didn't I ask!??); maybe because I naively arranged accommodations we can only describe as rustic and quaint, Israeli tzimmer-style, not a five-star, or even a three-star, hotel; maybe it was our limited time for trips with Shavuot in the middle,...oh, if only we could do it all over again!
Immediately our mazal had changed. No emails, no answers, no nothing. We searched our souls, pleaded for answers - nothing.
Tachlis - we were now half-way through the month and had no realistic ability to pay our salaries for Kollel Ohr Michael. Will we close the kollel? Should we take a loan? Our talmidim rely on us. We could have closed at the beginning of the month, and at least they all would have had a chance to learn or work somewhere else.
Mazal the Kallah Loses her RingThe shidduch between Mazal and Daron which had begun on Lag B'Omer (the same day we'd finalized plans for the Sefer Torah) was coming to fruition and we threw together a chatuna (wedding) in a matter of days. The kallah, Mazal, asked to stay by us the night before, and I was thrilled to take her in, but limited by the same issues I'd had during our Chachnasat Sefer Torah - acute achilles tendonitis. "I'll be fine. I hope," I reassured myself.
Mazal, I figured, would surely want to stay close to home the day before the wedding and I'll just let her enjoy her leisurely time to get ready. Since the guys were doing all the planning, tables, music, photos, arranged for other friends to cook (since I couldn't possibly stand long enough to make a meal for so many) - what could she need beyond what's here in our home or the neighborhood? The chatuna will be only two buildings away - I could surely walk that far.
Let's just say, Mazal had an entirely different idea in mind of her pre-wedding day: including nails, major shortening of her kallah gown, the making and assembly of wedding favors, perhaps we could find a place to quickly embroider the new tefillin bag she'd bought the chatan? I don't even have a car of my own, and no idea where any of these things can be found anyway.
By 3pm, hours before the chatuna, with Rav Yehudah by my side, we decided we'd have to pass this beautiful mitzvah as shomeret to the kallah to someone else - someone native to Tiberia, who owns a car, has time on her hands, speaks Hebrew, and knows where hair, nails and makeup can be done. Enter: "Dodah Shoshana!" I comforted myself that it wasn't my mitzvah to do. It was Shoshana's. And she needs a shidduch so it'll be a real zechut for her.
The chatuna went off beautifully, but it was clear - our leaving early (as we do from anything too late at night) and not being able to stay for a few other things Mazal had hoped to do at the wedding was a real disappointment to her. And I knew in my heart - I'd not been able to fulfill the mitzvah of "l'sameach chatan v'kallah." Good intentions - but one must have follow-through, or not promise more than one can give.
Inviting them over for dinner the second night after the wedding - I don't even know why, but inquired about her ring. "My ring! It's gone! I must've forgotten it when I washed my hands at the kever of Rabbi Akiva before we came here!" Mazal exclaimed. Although they went back to look for it the next day, it was gone. Gone. I couldn't believe it.
Every Step in Eretz Israel is a Mitzvah - especially with Achilles tendonitis"They say, whenever there's a test in parnassah, it is really just a test of emunah" we reminded ourselves as we descended the long stairway at the Kever of Rabbi Akiva, last night, a week after the wedding.
We'd come as we often do to enjoy a quiet talk in the darkness overlooking the Kinneret, but also to daven for those who'd contacted us in the past week needing various yeshuot.
And we both davened hard that Hashem would open the heart(s) of anyone in the position to be able to help us make our commitments to our talmidim.
Then, truthfully still feeling rather glum, we started back up (ouch) the long stairway to the parking area and I reassured my husband, "Yehudah, we must have done something wrong and there is no way Hashem simply doesn't want us to know what it is! We aren't Paroah, or the followers of Korach to whom Hashem had closed all chance of teshuva altogether and the sea swallowed them all up! We had good intentions. And if we erred, we will be given a chance to fix it."
Reaching the top of those stairs I suddenly thought of Mazal and her lost ring. "Stop! Let's go check for the ring in the office. They're open now. Maybe they were closed when Mazal and Doron tried. This is a religious place and they know it's a mitzvah to return a lost item. Surely they have place they keep things that are returned. If someone came here and found it, they came do daven - not to make off with someone's ring! There's a good chance it's here. I just know it!"
Sounding like a movie, I know, I continued as we flew back down those steps, "Yehudah, I'm so happy to be a Jew! It's an honor to live by Torah, to know what to do, and how it is that Hashem wants us to live our lives. It's such a thrill to have the chance to do mitzvot everyday. And we're doing one right now with each step here on these stairs." I wish I could add his responses, but truthfully, he was either silent (most likely) or I just wasn't listening to him. Also likely.
I sat back against a wall as I watched Rav Yehudah approach the caretaker. But I heard it clear as a bell, "Yes, we found a ring - three! It's here in our lost things box." I bolted to the doorway and there it was, the ring I'd only caught a glimpse of at the chupah.
"Mazal, Mazal, mazal tov!!!! We found your ring!!!!!!!!!!!" I screamed into my pelaphone like a true Israeli. "But were there three?!"
"Yes, three! B'Emet? You found it? Adina Ruth, you truly made me so happy!"
Everyone was thrilled. And I knew - I'd just "fixed" my failure to l'sameach the kallah and perhaps our donor, as well. Tikkun done. And I knew our mazal had changed, too.
The Check is in the Mail
And if you ever contact us/me and we suggest that you strengthen in area of mitzvot or halachot: tzniut, Shabbat, chesed, Shmirat haLashon, the halachot of business, etc...know we definitely live by those words ourselves. None of us are above "teshuvah."