Is it just me or you also agree that these charity Chinese auctions are getting out of hand. It seems like every week another (worthy) non-profit organization is sending me their extensive catalog (and I have yet to win something!).

When the latest catalog came in the mail, I wasn’t that enthusiastic. I wasn’t planning to flip through the pages of prizes. It seemed like the usual solicitation. But another family member thankfully leafed through it and showed something truly amazing. Yes, there was the usual array of gifts including jewelry and trips and kitchen makeovers. But what was striking about this auction was the grand prize. It wasn’t thousands of dollars in cash. It wasn’t a car or a trip to Israel or some exotic location.

The grand prize was something special, something that would last forever. The organization distributes shoes to the needy in Israel once a year. This is a highly anticipated event at which 42,000 children will receive new shoes before Passover. Yes, you read that correctly – 42,000! And the winner of the grand prize gets the merit of that shoe distribution! All those shoes will be donated in the winner’s honor or, if they so choose, in honor or memory of a loved one.

I was so moved to read this. It was one of those moments where all the problems that plague the Jewish people fell away and I thought, “I am really privileged to be a part of such a people.” (And I really want to win the grand prize!) This is what it means to give, this is what it means to focus on others, and this is what it means to focus on our spiritual life, not our material one.

I normally throw these catalogs straight in the recycling bin, but I kept this one. And, yes, I decided to participate in the contest. I did put some tickets in for a beautiful necklace I saw (!) but I was motivated by the thoughts of the grand prize. It was more expensive than the other tickets but the reward is so much greater.

I’m not counting on my name being drawn (I don’t have a great track record!) but I feel that just by participating, actually just by being part of such a people, even just by knowing that such a contest exists and is motivating to other members of the Jewish people, that I am a winner already!