Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Kislev 5764 - December 10, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Cost-Cutting Tips for Weddings
Collecting for Hachnossas Kalla

by Yonina Hall

"Nobody realized my situation, maybe because I'm always smiling," confides one of our readers, a mother of nine. "But when my sixth child got engaged this year, I was really stuck. The wedding was going to cost me $20,000 and I had to do everything myself, including running to gemachim for loans. Finally, the Shabbos aufruf arrived.

"For the Kiddush, all my neighbors baked cakes, cakes and more cakes. People kept calling and asking, `Do you need cakes?' I wanted to tell them, `With the same amount of energy you put into baking for me, you could go around collecting hachnossas kalla for me.' "

Imagine this mother's surprise when a yungerman from her neighborhood, whom she didn't know personally, came to her door with an envelope containing several thousand dollars that he had collected for her. "I was floored," she recalls with tears in her eyes. "He asked me, `Do you need any more?'

Sometimes people don't realize what should be done. Each family has different needs. We should all try to think of what will really help a family during their time of simcha."

In these difficult economic times, money is the unspoken but pivotal ingredient in every simcha. Friends and neighbors can see the new clothes being purchased; the crates of groceries being delivered before, during and after the wedding; and the minibuses ferrying family members to and from sheva brochos. What they don't see is the state of the family's finances. The stress of paying off debts can exact a heavy toll on parents' health, not to mention their peace of mind. Rare is the neighbor who asks candidly, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

This IS something that everyone can do to make their neighbor's simcha even happier. Collecting money for hachnossas kalla -- even if it's only a small collection among friends -- can give the parents of the chosson or kalla a little breathing room while the rest of their money is pouring out of their pockets. (As a new mechutan jokes, "Someone once asked, `What's the first thing I should do when my son gets engaged?' His friend replied, `Go to the bank and order checkbooks!' ") We have all heard the stories about large, extended families who have turned hachnosas kalla collecting into an art form. Every relative pitches in by going door-to-door in different cities for many months, raising enough money to buy the young couple a small apartment. Yet this mitzva can also be conducted on a smaller scale among one's friends, neighbors or coworkers. Klall Yisroel has a special place in its heart for the mitzva of hachnossas kalla, the continuity of our people.

"Whenever we have guests from abroad, I always ask them for money to give to hachnossas kalla," says Mrs. T. "Then, when I hear that someone's collecting, I give some of it to them. Or, if I know of a chosson or kalla who really needs extra money, I add it to my wedding gift. It's not a lot of money -- 100 shekel here, 50 shekel there -- but it helps."

Getting Started

Collecting for hachnossas kalla among friends or neighbors requires little more than a friendly smile. If you decide to expand your collection door-to-door, you may want to go together with another woman, but this is not required by halocho.

While you may mention details of the family you're collecting for (e.g. the father is out of work or sick r'l, or the kalla is an orphan), it's best not to identify the family by name. Your personal sincerity is enough to gain your friends' trust. If you are collecting among strangers, you might want to show a letter from a rabbi who knows the family. Dressing nicely conveys the importance of your mission.

"I've collected for hachnossas kalla among my friends in my neighborhood a few times," says Mrs. Z. "I don't do it very often -- maybe only once a year so my friends don't feel I'm taking advantage of them. It does take a bit of time (especially since I end up chatting with those I haven't seen in a while), but I find that everyone is very open to this cause. The average donation is 20 to 50 shekels, although people have given me 100 and 200 shekel bills on the spot. One year, I went around collecting on motzaei Yom Tov and I received an outpouring of donations that people had pledged for Yizkor."

Since most women will have to ask their husbands for permission to give large sums, it is best to visit at a time when your friends' husbands are home. People seem to have more money in their pockets before Shabbos than after. While motzaei Shabbos may be an easier time for you to go out collecting, going out at a more difficult time often reaps unexpected rewards. "People feel sorry for a lady who has to [or chooses to] go out collecting on Friday afternoon or on a rainy day," observes Mrs. F.

More Than a Drop in the Bucket

Considering the tens of thousands of dollars families must raise for their wedding, you may think that any money you collect is a drop in the bucket. It is -- but it can mean the world to someone who won't have to pay it back with all her other loans.

"Help!" cried one mother to her close friend a few weeks before the wedding of her third child. "This afternoon I have to buy mattresses and I need $400!" Her friend immediately called a mutual friend in another neighborhood to alert her to what was happening and asked her to solicit her acquaintances for hachnossas kalla money. Imagine the mother's relief when her close friend handed her an envelope filled with cash, no questions asked.

"My friend and I collected 1,200 shekel going door-to-door in our neighborhood over a period of three nights," recalls Mrs. W. "It wasn't big money, but the kalla definitely appreciated it. I decided to do it because the kalla was from a difficult family situation and I felt she deserved a good start. The amount we collected covered the cost of an engagement party in a hall, which made her very happy."

While we're involved in this special mitzva, let's not fall into the trap of judging our neighbors' needs. Even if you would never agree to a `gift exchange' between the families of the chosson and kalla, or if things like Shabbos sheitels, silver candlesticks and silver menoras sound extravagant to your way of thinking, they may be very important to other people.

May we merit helping our neighbors in the way they need it most, and may every chosson and kalla build a bayis ne'eman beYisroel on the foundations of chessed.


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