I’d like to share with you an incredible story that was told to me firsthand by Malkie*. Sometime last Elul, Malkie received a phone call from a friend telling her about a kallah in the neighborhood who was due to get married the following week. The kallah had absolutely no money to buy even the most basic essentials to start off her marriage. She couldn’t even afford a pair of socks. The chosson came from a complicated background and was likewise unable to contribute to setting up their home. The couple was in desperate need of help, and with one week to go, there was no time to lose. Malkie considered posting a request for donations to the local n’shei (a group of women who join together with the goal of helping members of the community in matters big and small), but decided against it. With all the help that the women constantly provided for each other, nobody ever asked for money. That would be opening up a Pandora’s box that would never close. Even though Malkie chose not to ask for funds, something niggled at the back of her mind and wouldn’t let her rest. She really felt badly for the kallah and realized that Hashem had arranged for her to come upon this information for a reason. She had to try to help her.
Despite her discomfort, Malkie sent out a somewhat apologetic message to the n’shei describing the predicament of the kallah and asked if the women could please donate towels, linens, or any other unused items lying around their homes for the new couple. She offered to come pick up any donations and bring them to the kallah herself. Nothing in the world could have possibly prepared Malkie for the response she received. Within one hour, she received 45 emails from women offering to help. By the end of the week, she had received close to 100 emails. One woman said she wanted to help because it was Elul. She wanted to do it for Hashem.
The donations began to arrive at Malkie’s doorstep in a steady stream: an expensive lace tablecloth, gold-trimmed towels, a sheitel, linens, an iron, a vegetable slicer, money in an envelope, and a beautifully wrapped challah board and knife. A high-end boutique offered the kallah to come to the store and take whatever she wanted - for free! The next day, Malkie may as well have left her front door open, as people knocked at her door at all hours of the day and dropped off the basics needed to start off a home: a hot plate, a crockpot, an urn, a kettle, a hand blender, containers, chair cushions, a clock, cutting boards, a broom, a garbage pail, and a laundry basket. One family donated a large sum of money hoping that in the z’chus of the tzedakah they gave to the Kallah, their own daughter would soon merit to become a kallah as well. One woman went to Ikea and bought five sets of cutlery and a host of other kitchen utensils. Another donated 100 shekels towards chocolate and nosh. She felt that, in the end, the chosson and kallah would receive everything they needed, but they should also be given something extra that every young couple could use and enjoy. Malkie doesn’t own a car, so other women volunteered to drive around the neighborhood, pick up the donations, and help Malkie deliver the items to the apartment of the chosson and kallah.
Malkie was totally overwhelmed by the manner in which the women of the n’shei stepped up to the plate and set up this couple with absolutely everything they could possibly need. One evening, Malkie was literally shaking due to what she was experiencing. She then stepped onto her balcony, looked up at the stars, and poured her heart out in a personal tefilah. She asked Hashem to look at His women, see their achdus, and watch as they opened their hearts with love for a girl with whom they weren’t even acquainted. She pleaded that Hashem listen to her tefilos in the z’chus of the chesed of all those women. Malkie had much to daven for at that time. Just one week earlier, she had been told by her doctor that she should begin fertility treatment if she wanted to be blessed with more children. This was not an easy thing for Malkie to hear. When her home began filling up with purchases for the Kallah, she decided to wait another month before beginning treatment. She davened to Hashem with all her might that she should have more children. She also davened for her sister-in-law, who was still waiting to become a mother after six years of marriage. She similarly davened for her sister, who had been waiting for several years to have a baby. All week long the phone kept ringing. And Malkie davened. There were more knocks on the door. And Malkie davened. More envelopes were dropped off. And Malkie davened. More packages delivered. More tefilos. Malkie would shake and cry, and harness the moment with intense and heartfelt pleas to Hashem.
On the Thursday before the wedding, Malkie and a volunteer filled every inch of a car with the many gifts that had piled up in her home and delivered them to the apartment of the chosson and kallah. When they entered the apartment, they found it to be totally empty with the exception of four hand towels and two small pots. It is with this meager handful of belongings that the young couple had expected to begin their marriage. Malkie and her volunteer immediately began the process of transferring the gifts from the car to the apartment, each making approximately ten trips up and down in the elevator. When the Kallah saw the sheer quantity of what was being brought into her apartment, she was rendered speechless. All she could do was take out a pen and paper and write down the names of the women who stood before her. She promised to daven for them as she stood under the chupah the following week. At last, the apartment was ready. Mission accomplished. On Sunday, the chosson and kallah got married k’das Moshe v’Yisrael.
Hashem was clearly listening to each and every word of Malkie’s passionate tefilos. Ten months later, Malkie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her sister-in-law gave birth to a precious little girl one month later. And one week after that, her sister gave birth to an adorable baby boy. The daughter of the couple who made a large monetary donation became a kallah.
Malkie still marvels at the incredible sequence of events which brought so much brachah to so many lives. Of course, there is no way to really understand the cheshbonos (calculations) of Hashem, but Malkie strongly felt that the births of the babies and the shidduch that was made were directly linked to the extraordinary chesed of the n’shei. We have no possible way of knowing the impact of the simplest act of chesed or the smallest tefilah, but we do know that Hashem is always watching and listening.
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.