Walking up the road
Last week we discussed doing more Tzedaka in the month of Elul, not involving giving money. For those of you who missed out, here’s the link to the Teshuva:
Following the Rambam who places getting someone through their financial difficulties and securing a job as the top most level of Tzedaka, I would like to share with you a beautiful story (from a firsthand source!) about a man who found a very humane and creative way to help someone.
Jack, a member of one of the large Jewish communities in America back in the 60s, found himself in financial straits. Times were hard and what he usually found as successful means of earning a living, didn’t stand up to his expectations. He lost more and more money, naturally causing other members of the community who had business connections with him to stop investing in his enterprise and to discontinue their fiscal relationship.
Samuel, a respected man in his community, a man with a great reputation for his integrity and economic wisdom, feared that Jack was on the road to bankruptcy. He had an idea of how to re-establish Jack’s faith in himself and the trust of the other members of the community in his future financial endeavors.
Samuel began to walk with Jack after davening on the way home. They walked on a central road in the neighborhood that was visible to all coming and going from shul. He gave Jack sound advice regarding his business and suggested ways in which he could get back on track. However, more importantly, other members of the community, seeing that Samuel was investing time with Jack, reasoned that he was helping him monetarily and were re-assured. If Jack had such a reliable and successful man as an advisor and guide, then they could try investing in his business once again.
Thus, without giving him money but instead, re-establishing his reputation, Samuel figured a way of not causing Jack to feel he was needy, G-d forbid, and encouraged others to continue their business relationships with him.
Elul calls on us for creativity in Avodat Hashem – to rethink patterns of behavior and freshen up our attitude towards Mitzvot. Some things that worked for us in the past may need a change, while others should be maintained and strengthened. Wishing us all a walk up the road to the high holidays with high and creative spirit!