Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Power of a Small $10 Tzedaka Donation

Rabbi Nachman Seltzer relates a fascinating story. One day, Rav Golden, a Rabbi in Los Angeles, received a phone call from Rav Finkelman in Lakewood, asking for his help. Rav Finkelman explained that there was an elderly woman named Rose Shapiro who passed away in an old-age home not far from Rav Golden’s home. 

Rose had no family, and the home’s policy in these situations was to cremate the body. Rav Finkelman explained that he did not know this woman, but he asked Rav Golden to please make sure that she received a proper Jewish burial. 

Rav Golden was more than willing to do this Mitzvah. He contacted the old-age home, and asked that they release the body into his care so that he could have the woman buried according to Jewish law. 

The home was very happy to accommodate, as it was much easier for them not to have to bother with the matter. Rav Golden was able to arrange for her burial in a local cemetery, and felt overjoyed that he was able to perform a Chessed Shel Emes, but one thing was still unclear to him. 

How did Rav Finkelman from Lakewood, come to be involved with Rose Shapiro, an irreligious Jewish woman in Los Angeles? He called Rav Finkelman, who explained the amazing turn of events. 

He explained, a nurse named Anne Treverson who worked in the old-age home, is a devoted caretaker who loves her patients. She felt the home truly cared for their residents, but they were lacking in the way they handle death. It always bothered her when a patient with no family would be cremated. 

Anne knew that many non-Jews did not care about this, but she also knew that in the Jewish religion it was forbidden. Though it bothered her, there was not much she could do about it. When Rose passed away, Anne knew that Rose was a Jewish woman, and Anne did not want her to be cremated. She felt strongly that it was just not right.

She looked through Rose’s drawers, hoping she would find some kind of family member who would be willing to save Rose, but she found nothing. Anne

did not give up. She went to the bookkeeper’s office and asked to see Rose’s file. She was not sure what she was searching for, but she was hopeful she would find something. 

Suddenly, she found a receipt from a Yeshivah in a place called Lakewood, along with a letter of appreciation. Anne dialed the number printed on the receipt and she reached the Lakewood Yeshivah. That was how Rav Finkelman knew about Rose Shapiro. 

Rav Golden asked one more question, “How much money did this woman usually send to the Yeshivah? Was it a large donation?” 

Rav Finkelman laughed and said, “She would usually send a check for ten dollars on her birthday!” 

Rabbi Seltzer explains that Rose’s ten dollar check to Tzedakah was sufficient enough for her to merit being saved from being cremated! If just ten dollars can bring about such a great outcome, imagine the outcome when greater amounts are given!

Reprinted from the Parshas Yisro 5777 email of Torah U’Tefilah: A Collection of Inspiring Insights compiled by Rabbi Yehuda Winzelberg.