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GOOD MORNING! A wagon driver, a simple man, once asked the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, "Rebbie, what can I do to ensure that I have a portion in the World to Come?" The Chofetz Chaim advised him, "Start a gemach, a free loan society." (The word "gemach" is an acronym for "gemilut chasadim" which translates as "doing deeds of kindness.") In Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers 1:2, the Mishna (teaching) states:
"Shimon HaTzadik (the righteous) used to say that the world stands on 3 things: Torah, Prayer and Deeds of Loving Kindness."
The Talmud, Yevamos 79a, tells us that the Jewish people are known by 3 traits: merciful, morally sensitive and doers of kindness. How one expresses those qualities is only limited by one's imagination. In Jerusalem there are literally thousands of Free Loan Societies.
Usually when one thinks of a Free Loan Society, he thinks of an organization which loans money interest free (the borrower gives monthly post-dated checks and has two guarantors). In South Florida, for instance, there is the Hebrew Free Loan Association, 305-933-1187 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (You can be a part of this Mitzvah and every loan they make by sending a contribution to: HFLA, POB 630362, Miami, FL 33163). This fits right in with the highest level of Maimonides 8 Levels of Tzedakah (righteousness ... philanthropic assistance to others) - to help a person before he becomes impoverished - with a loan or by finding him a job or a business deal.
However, other Free Loan Societies are as varied as one's sensitivity to others' needs and his creativity to help them. If one is having a Simcha (a joyous celebration - an engagement, a bris...) there are gemachs to borrow tables and chairs and even dishes and silverware! If it is Shabbat and the pharmacy is closed, one can go to a medicine gemach. Imagine the joy of being able to borrow the right power tool. The mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lopiansky, started his career helping people with a gemach, Yad Sarah, for medical equipment including beds, wheel chairs and oxygen machines. Yad Sarah grew to a multi-million dollar institution helping people throughout Israel... and Uri Lopiansky was drafted to be on the Jerusalem City Council where he eventually became mayor!
Bridal gowns are very expensive. One can borrow a gown, pay for tailoring, wear it, have it cleaned and return it. The Bridal Canopy is run by Rebbetzin Leah Tolwin, in Detroit. People come from all over the Mid-West. She has over 250 gowns including Mother of the Bride and Bride's Maids gowns. Stores, manufactures and brides donate the gowns. (If you are interested in starting a bridal gemach, you can call Rebbetzin Tolwin at 248-424-9244 or write her at LTolwin@aish.com).
In Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers 4:21-22, the Mishna (teaching) states: Rebbi Ya'akov (Jacob) said:
"This world is compared to a corridor before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the corridor in order that you may enter into the banquet-hall."
He then continues and says:
"Better one moment of repentance and good deeds in this world than all of the world to come; and better one moment of spiritual pleasure in the World to Come than all of the life in this world."
If one wants to talk about ultimate pleasure, it is in the next world. If one wants to talk about the opportunity to fulfill the Almighty's will, make the world a better place and perfect his own character, then this world is the place. In the next world there is no opportunity to do Mitzvot (the Almighty's commandments) or to work on perfecting oneself or the world. What better way to have pleasure in this world and the next than to help others by starting a Free Loan Society?
The Almighty Himself, testifies on Abraham:
"I have loved him because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the ways of the Almighty to do righteousness and justice..." (Genesis 18:19)
If you would like to know more about what the Torah teaches about kindness and how to help others, I highly recommend the classic and essential book Ahavath Chesed (Love of Kindness) by the Chafetz Chaim available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion sets forth the standards of purity and perfection for a Cohen; specifies the physical requirements of sacrifices and what is to be done with blemished offerings; proclaims as holidays the Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
It reminds the Jewish people to provide pure olive oil for the Menorah and designates the details of the Showbread (two stacks of 6 loaves each which were placed on the table in the portable sanctuary and later in the Temple once a week upon Shabbat).
The portion ends with the interesting story of a man who blasphemed God's name with a curse. What should be the penalty for this transgression? Curious? Lev. 24:14.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"You shall dwell seven days in booths, every member of Israel shall dwell in booths." (Leviticus 23:42)
What lesson do we learn from dwelling a Sukkah (a booth)?
The Chofetz Chaim said that dwelling in a booth reminds us that we are only in this world temporarily. Just as the booths we sit in are temporary dwellings, so too our entire sojourn in this world is only a temporary dwelling.
Likewise, when we invite guests to our Sukkah it is a reminder that every person is only a guest in this world. This awareness - that we are only in this world temporarily - will increase our motivation to make the best use of our time to accomplish as much good as we can in this world.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 7:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 6:01 Hong Kong 6:34 Honolulu 6:39
J'Burg 5:15 London 8:14 Los Angeles 7:23
Melbourne 5:05 Miami 7:36 Moscow 8:01
New York 7:40 Singapore 6:49
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
To be satisfied with little is hard;
to be satisfied with a lot, impossible.
-- Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
In Loving Memory of