Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Shevat 5765 - January 19, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

By S. W.

The world does not rotate on its axis, as is commonly thought. It spins on three feet, one of which is gemilus chassodim, be it the money gemachs or the dozens, if not hundreds, of other gemachs. Just turn to your local communal directory to see the innovative types of gemachim that exist, with new ones cropping up all the time to serve the general public.

Revolve, they all do, somehow or other, whether free loan for money, loan of specific items, or sale, like clothing gemachs, which usually revolve as well, in many ways — the money is recycled for tzedoka and if the clothes are in good condition when the child has outworn them, it will find its way back to the gemach as a donation. If not, the buttons will serve for another garment . . .

We will focus on one story of a money gemach. One particularly conscientious gabbai tells the following story: A man marrying off his children, in debt from previous weddings with an upcoming one, came to the gemach to renew a loan and perhaps increase it.

"But you know that there is a three-month waiting period between one loan and the next. You just finished your last one now."

How about taking out a loan on his married son's name? Technically, that could only work if the son came in person to get the loan. "Sorry. But why don't you send him to us?"

The story does not begin to end there. The gabbai actually called the son and told him the situation. The son, not burdened with debts like his father, was willing to take a loan upon himself, pay it back himself through the usual installments, and even agreed to up the sum from three thousand dollars to four.

The gabbai then called up the father to inform him that it was all arranged, and that he was getting a free loan!

Then there is a heartwarming story that took place this past Chanuka in a clothing gemach. To liven up the Rosh Chodesh clearance sale (everything for a shekel), the organizers decided to raffle off a new quilt. The price would be covered by the shekel charged for the raffle,and the customers liked the excitement.

Now an aside about these sales: some customers ONLY come on Rosh Chodesh when they know for sure how many items they can purchase with the coin or bill they are able to spare. Five pairs of shoes and five trousers for ten shekel, for example. Even so, they are willing to `gamble' one shekel on the raffle, knowing that the money, in any case, goes to the gemach. So much for the value of a single shekel with some human nature thrown in.

One woman, naturally, won. When I came in two days later, she came up to me with a broad smile on her face to thank me. Of course, I congratulated her, happy that a frequent customer with a large family had won.

"Actually, I did not keep it for myself," she said. "You see, since the beginning of the winter, I have bought several good second-hand quilts and blankets for the family here at the gemach. I didn't need this new quilt, and so, when I contemplated laying out a shekel for the raffle, I said to myself that if I did win, I would give it away to a needy family."

Mi k'amcho Yisroel!


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