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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 13, 2004 / 26 Menachem-Av, 5764

Of Baltimore Bills and Denver Dollars

By Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn


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Inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources. A true must-read that you must read til the end


“You shall not harden your heart or close your hand.”

                        —   Deut. 15:7


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Rabbi Jonathan Aryeh Seidemann of Kehillah B'nai Torah synagogue in Baltimore, Maryland, told this story to his Shabbes (Sabbath) afternoon Chumash (Bible) class; the story involved his father-in-law, Rabbi Meyer Schwab.

Rabbi Schwab is the founder and dean of an Bais Yaakov High School of Denver, Colorado. He is also responsible for the financial stability of the school, and in this role he often meets with philanthropists, to enlist their support.


In the early 1970's there was a millionaire in Denver, an elderly gentleman named Max Rabinowitz (pseudonym) who remained Sabbath observant even though most of his friends and family were not. He gave charity, but his parameters for giving were not in proportion to his wealth. He considered $500 a large donation, when in reality he could easily have given ten times that amount. His children were independently wealthy, he owned factories and real estate, but he could not part with large sums of money except for business investments. Indeed, the most Max ever donated to the yeshivah of Denver or the Bais Yaakov was $500.


One morning as Rabbi Schwab was teaching a class, he was interrupted by his secretary.


"I am sorry to disturb you," she said with urgency, "but you have an extremely important phone call."


Reluctant to stop the lesson, Rabbi Schwab asked the secretary if the call could possibly wait till later. "No," she said, "they are calling from the hospital."


Rabbi Schwab rushed to his office and picked up the phone. It was Max Rabinowitz. "Rabbi," he said. "I must see you right away."


Six months earlier, Max had asked Rabbi Schwab to get him a siddur (prayerbook) that contained Viduy (the Confessional prayer recited on a deathbed), and Rabbi Schwab had brought him one. Now, on the phone, Max pleaded with Rabbi Schwab to come immediately. "By this afternoon, it will be too late," Max said softly.


When Rabbi Schwab came to Max's room, the family was gathered at his bedside. After Rabbi Schwab greeted all those present, Max asked everyone to leave the room. Slowly and carefully, Rabbi Schwab recited with Max the poignant words of Viduy. When they finished, silence enveloped the room. Then Max said softly, "I remember when I was a little boy there was a magid [traveling preacher] who came to our town. He spoke of the importance of giving charity and he mentioned over and over the expression 'Charity rescues from death'. Before my end I would like to fulfill that mitzvah [religious duty] and be clear with G-d. I have prepared two checks: one for your Bais Yaakov and the other for the yeshivah [Toras Chaim in Denver]. Please take them out of the drawer and deliver them."


Rabbi Schwab thought hopefully that perhaps his budgetary problems for the year might be over. He opened the top drawer of the cabinet and took out the two checks. He could not believe his eyes. Each check was for $500.


Rabbi Schwab stared at the checks and was incredulous. "Max," he exclaimed, "you have the opportunity to acquire a share in Olam Haba [The World to Come] as you never did before. Our Bais Yaakov is now housed in trailers. We need a building. Max, give us $50,000 and we'll put your name on the building as an everlasting testimony to your charity. You'll be helping hundreds of girls who are the future mothers of our people. This is your last chance."


Max thought for a long moment and then said in Yiddish, "Glaib mir, mine hartz vill, und mine kup farshteit, uhber der hant lust zich nisht efenen." ("Believe me, my heart wants [to give the charity] and my head understands [that it is the right thing to do] — but my hand refuses to let itself be opened.")


Max died that night, forever bereft of the opportunity of magnanimous eternal reward.


Days later, Rabbi Schwab defined this episode. He said, "In discussing a man's reluctance to give charity, the Torah [Bible] warns, "You shall not harden your heart or close your hand (Deut. 15:7). The Torah says that there are two parts to the mitzvah of tzedakah [charity], the heart and the hand. A man can understand that his financial help is needed and that a situation is indeed dire, but if he is not trained from his earliest years to open his hand to benefit others, he will find it all but impossible to part with his money."

When Rabbi Seidemann finished this story, he said to his congregants, "A person has to have a special merit to give charity. Max could have earned eternal reward for his philanthropy, but he passed up the chance. We, while we are on this world, should not lose the opportunity when its presents itself."


After the class, one of the attendees, Mrs. Gretta Golden, said to Rabbi Seidemann, "Rabbi you told this story in the past. You mentioned it at a Shabbes Chumash class three years ago!"


"And you remember it from then?" asked Rabbi Seidemann, surprised and complimented that someone would remember something that he had said years ago.


"Oh yes," she said, "I remember that story so well. It made such an impression on me. And Rabbi," she added, "I should really tell you a story about that story."

Mrs. Golden was employed by the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where she was a marketing representative of international services. She headed the Israeli unit. Since Johns Hopkins is one of the finest hospitals in the world, it attracts patients from around the globe.


Just two weeks after Mrs. Golden first heard the story from Rabbi Seidemann, an Israeli family came to Johns Hopkins with their 8-year-old son who needed major surgery. They brought along all the boy's medical files and explained to Mrs. Golden that they could not afford to pay for the operation the child so desperately needed.


As she leafed through the boy's files, his father said that a few months earlier a relative of theirs had suggested that they write a letter to a certain Jewish philanthropist who had been profiled in The New York Times. "You have nothing to lose," said the relative, and indeed they found someone to write a letter in English, explaining their child's desperate situation.


A few weeks later the family received a reply from the philanthropist wishing their son a complete recovery but adding that he could not help financially. This letter was in the file along with the medical records.


Mrs. Golden read and reread the letter and thought of the story she had heard from her rabbi. That night she composed a letter to this philanthropist, explained the nature of her work and detailed the situation of the little Israeli boy. She finished the letter with the story about Max Rabinowitz and his inability to give charity even at the end of his life.


Mrs. Golden's final sentence in the letter was, "Don't let that man be you."


Two weeks later Johns Hopkins received a check of over $40,000 from that philanthropist to cover the entire cost of the operation!


When Rabbi Seidemann told me these stories he said, "You can never tell what happens when you tell an inspirational story. I told the story of my father-in-law once and look how an Israeli family was helped. And I never would have known about it except that I told the story a second time three years later. Stories can be so motivating."


I agree.

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Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn is a world famous inspirational lecturer and author of, among others, Reflections of the Maggid: Inspirational stories from around the globe and around the corner, from where this story was adapted. (Sales of the book help fund JWR.)

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© 2004, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.