Five weeks ago an immediate relative of mine became
critically ill. I was devastated, pained and bewildered. A
deep sense of despondency overtook me. "Why me? Why doesn't
Hashem send this nisoyon to someone else?" It seemed
overwhelming in every sense of the word -- technically,
financially and emotionally. Almost like slaying a dragon.
At first, I was enveloped by despair. Panic. Fear. Many
questions. Lots of arrangements. A whirl of nostalgia, a
whirlwind of memories. But there wasn't much time for sitting
around and moping. No speculations. No abstract thinking, "If
only..." or "Imagine if it weren't true?"
Action. That was the word. I had to do something. So, now
The answer escaped my lips as a few tears rolled down my
cheeks. "Speak to the rov."
I threw on a coat, pulled out my bus ticket and I was off.
Forty minutes and three kilometers later I was formulating my
"Should we travel overseas in spite of the staggering costs,
bittul Torah, interruptions in the children's
The rov's answers were lucid, solid, sound and sensible. "At
this point, it is better to stay here." As an afterthought, I
threw in another question. I still don't know what prompted
me to ask -- I really had no intention of carrying out this
"Should I organize people to say 1000 sifrei Tehillim
"Definitely. Absolutely. No question about it. Do it right
I did. I phoned up several papers, placed advertisements and
the next morning I waited for the phone to ring. Ring it did!
It never stopped. I embarked on a new career: administrator
and manager of a national and international Tehillim
"You had an ad about sifrei Tehillim. How does it
"Well, the Tehillim is divided into five Books. Do you think
you'd be able to recite any of them today?"
"I don't mind taking on the entire Tehillim. I'll take the
entire Tehillim for five days. And if you need me again for
next week, let me know."
"How wonderful! May you be gebensht from Above!"
I wrote her down for five sifrei Tehillim for the
coming ten days. Fifty complete Books in one fell swoop. I
didn't ever imagine that so much chessed could be done
by someone I didn't even know, who didn't know me. People who
knew we were Yidden in distress and felt they could help in
some concrete way.
"Hello... You had an ad about..."
"Well, put me down for Sefer Rishon, Sheini, Shlishi.
I say Tehillim every day anyway, so I can just add the name
you want on my list at the end."
"Wonderful. Just a minute, I have another call waiting but
I'll get back to you." I clicked the flash to receive another
call, similar to this one.
"Hello? About the Tehillim..."
"Yes, I'll be right with you..." I clicked back. "Did you say
Rishon, sheini, shlishi for as long as I need?"
"Yes, and if you need more just let me know."
"What's your number?"
Down south. Was that near Beer Sheva? I had never been there
but I was slowly learning Israeli geography. I clicked back
to my other caller who offered to help with the children, the
dishes, do shopping or go to the hospital.
"Oh please, just saying Tehillim is enough."
"But I'm very serious. I'm a high school girl in Bnei Brak
and we go out to do chessed every Thursday anyway.
Should I put you on my list?" Since I lived in Jerusalem, I
declined, feeling good about the offer, anyway.
The next call was from a teacher, a home room
mechanechet in the Bais Yaakov in Zichron Yaakov, half
an hour away from Haifa, "Would you like us to split up a few
seforim in our eighth grades?" I assured her I
It was time for some coffee. Ah, coffee. Just the thought of
it infused me with adrenaline. Aromatic granules melting in
my pink mug. "Boruch..."
Ring. Ring. I gulped the first sip and reached for the
receiver, just in time. "Well, if you really need, I could
take on three sifrei Tehillim for the next sixty
"It's not too much?"
"No. I've been doing it for the past three years. I get up at
five thirty every morning, daven, and say Tehillim on
my long bus ride to work and back. I finish up whatever is
left over at night."
"How can you keep it up?"
"You know those signs plastered all over Yerusholayim, on
buses and everywhere -- Say Tehillim for your Soul. Well,
that's a direct message to me. I brings me closer to Hashem.
I think my saying Tehillim does more for me than it does for
whomever I am praying for!"
"Hello. I saw your ad and was extremely sad to hear of
another sick person among Klal Yisroel. You can write me down
for two Books and you'll see, soon there'll be good news.
Just keep up your bitochon!"
Why was I in pain? Fear? Distress? All is from Above, a
message as real as the telephone receiver in my hand.
After another five seforim chalked down to a
chevras Tehillim that included 26 boys, and more
promises here and there, I was no longer wallowing in self
pity and despair. No more slaying dragons. Klal Yisroel was
reaching out to help me. I had missed it by moping, looking
inwards instead of outward.
I was using my neighbor's cell phone as well as my own phone,
both ringing at once. Raanana, Tzefas. Ofakim. I had
forgotten about my coffee until I found my two-year- old
gulping it from my mug. I was hitting the 300 mark at only
ten a.m. The question I had asked the rov was for my own
benefit, to learn how much chessed there was, how much
Tehillim was already being said.
Just as amazing was the fact that none of the many dozens who
had called had pried. "What's the matter..."
The teacher from Zichron was back on the line. "My eighth
graders can organize another two hundred and ten complete
Tehillim rounds." I was up to six hundred. Initiated by me.
And I had asked, "Why me? Why not someone else?"
I was no longer devastated, no longer bewildered.
I had slain the dragon.