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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 Oct. 20, 2006 / 28 Tishrei, 5767

A wealthy person is only ‘important’ because he is a vessel for kindness

By Jonathan Rosenblum



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The Divine helps the givers


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 1971, a Chassidic Torah scholar with $500 in extra money from his wedding decided to start a gemach (interest-free communal fund). By the late '80s, that gemach was lending over ten million dollars a year.


How did a Torah instructor, with no substantial personal resources of his own, come to run a gemach of that magnitude? That was the question that I faced when I came to write about Rabbi Shmuel Avraham Myski, zt"l, for the Jewish Observer, shortly after his too early passing.


Ultimately, the only answer I could offer was: When a person has an overwhelming desire to give to others, the Lord provides him with the means to do so — and on a scale beyond anything that could have been contemplated initially.


Rabbi Myski certainly possessed that overwhelming desire to give. He was accused, not without with some justice, of trying to grab all the chesed ("kindness opportunities") in Monsey, New York, for himself. . He did not wait to be asked for loans, but sought out those in need. He noticed, for instance, that a local shoe store was not properly stocked for the peak Passover season, and deduced that the owner had exhausted all his credit. A loan was forthcoming without ever having been sought.


The lessons learned from Rabbi Myski's remarkable life came back to me recently during a series of visits to Yad Eliezer's Jerusalem headquarters. About the dedication of the organization's founders Rabbi Yaakov Weisel and his wife Hadassah there can be no question. Fourteen years ago, robbers broke into the Weisels' apartment in Jerusalem's Ezras Torah neighborhood.


By unhappy chance, Rabbi Weisel, who had never before kept any substantial sum of money in the house, had just received a large cash contribution. He knew that he was under no Halachic (Jewish legal) obligation to endanger his life, but the thought of all those who would benefit from the money prevented him from handing it over. The robbers stabbed him 21 times, missing major blood vessels by millimeters, before fleeing with an empty safe.


Today Yad Eliezer is an empire of kindness, providing $15,000,000 a year in assistance to some of Israel's poorest families. But it started from nothing more than a simple impulse to help some neighbors in need.


Twenty-eight years ago, Mrs. Hadassah Weisel sent one of her daughters door-to-door to collect food for a neighbor with a number of disabled children and her own major health problems.


Each such trip brought back news of other such families in similar need. Soon the Weisel daughters were supplemented by a whole corps of neighborhood girls. Today Yad Eliezer has thousands of volunteers all around Israel collecting food and provides food worth over $4,000,000 annually to close to 100,000 Israeli Jews, through its monthly food baskets, weekly meals to the home bound, and special holiday distributions.


Yad Eliezer's infant formula program began in a similarly humble fashion. Mrs. Weisel noticed a neighborhood woman whose infant son could not hold his head up. After discreet inquiries, she ascertained that the baby's malnourished mother could not nurse, and to save money, she was diluting the infant formula with three times more water than recommended. As a result, the infant suffered from an acute vitamin deficiency. Yad Eliezer today supplies 1,800 mothers who cannot nurse for one reason or another with all the formula needed.


Many outside of Israel know Yad Eliezer best from the advertisements urging those making weddings for their own children to adopt the wedding of a poor couple in Israel. The cost of the latter is only a fraction of that of dessert alone at more lavish affairs in the Diaspora.


To date the organization has made over 10,000 weddings in this fashion. (The adopt-a-wedding idea has since been expanded to an adopt-a-bar mitzvah program to purchase tefillin for impoverished Israeli boys.) Two years ago, the organization purchased two wedding halls in Jerusalem for nearly $4,000,000, which allows them to further reduce the costs to the poorest families and offer relief to "middle class" Torah families. The stigma to fully subsidized families is also removed since the halls are used for all kinds of families.


Like most of Yad Eliezer's programs, the wedding program also began with a single individual in need. A young woman came to the Weisels' door collecting coins in a nylon sandwich bag on behalf of a poor young woman wanting to marry and start a family . She told Rabbi Weisel that she herself was the bride. Her father had been unable to meet his financial commitments, and she was afraid that her equally poor groom would against his will be forced to break their engagement.


About seven years ago, the Weisel's son Dov, who is today the director of Yad Eliezer, visited a woman with no family support raising a son on her own. Even though there was no food in the house, she told him that her greatest concern was that her son had no one with whom to study religious and character building texts.


Dov found a young Torah scholar to learn with the boy. It occurred to him that there must be many other young boys with no supportive male figure in their lives. A small $150,000 pilot program proved so successful that a full-scale Big Brother Program was developed. Today 3,500 boys between the ages of 8 and 13 spend at least three hours a week with an avreich, who not only learns with them but becomes fully involved in every aspect of their lives.


Another 1,200 are waiting to get into the program. The total budget of the program is around $3,000,000, of which well over 80% provides much needed supplemental income to young Torah scholars. Again, a single case became the impetus for a major program.


How did what started as a handful of private kindness endeavors by one couple develop into Yad Eliezer? As with Rabbi Myski, the only answer is: siyata d'shamaya (help from Above). But that kind of siyata d'shamaya does not come to everyone. Dov Weisel tells a story that goes a long way to explaining that of his parents.


A few years ago, he was sitting with a group of substantial contributors when a poor man knocked on the office door. Dov asked him to wait, as he was in a meeting. At that point, his father took him aside, and told him, "Never forget that the poor man is the important one. He is the purpose of this organization. The wealthy are only important because they can help him."

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.




© 2006, Jonathan Rosenblum