April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Meet Chaya. Chaya is a regular girl with a regular life. She goes to school and has homework, tests and papers to write. Chaya works at a day camp during the summer, and enjoys spending her time with friends. Chaya gets good grades, acts respectfully and usually gets along with her siblings. But Chaya used to have a big secret—she was really bad at sharing. “Chaya, can I have a cookie?” “Sorry, but I only have six left.” “Chaya, can I borrow a dollar?” “Sorry, but I might need it later.” “Chaya, can I watch the movie with you?” “Sorry, but this is a one-person movie.”

It’s not that Chaya didn’t know the importance of sharing. She grew up hearing “sharing is caring” from about every adult she knew. Chaya learned all about the mitzvah of tzedaka. She just couldn’t get herself to practice generosity properly. The good thing is that Chaya cared enough to try to fix her problem, and that’s exactly what she did. Here’s how.

Bubbie Brenda was known to be one of the most generous people around. She was also Chaya’s grandmother. Chaya decided that her bubbie might be able to teach her how to be generous, so she went for a visit on a Thursday afternoon. Chaya and her bubbie spent time drinking tea, playing dominoes and talking. Near the end of the visit, Chaya asked her grandmother what she had been waiting to ask. “Bubbie? You are such a kind and generous person, can you give me advice so that I can become generous like you?” Bubbie Brenda smiled. “Of course, my sweetheart. It’s very simple. You must learn how to act. Now hold on for a second, I need to take this phone call. It’s urgent.” Chaya knew better than to wait around. She was sure her bubbie would be on the phone for an hour arranging a kindness for someone in the neighborhood. So, armed with her grandmother’s advice, Chaya went straight to sign up for acting classes. Chaya was going to learn how to act.

After weeks of learning, practicing and earning a starring role in the play, Chaya did not feel any more generous than before. She still ate all three feet of her Fruit by the Foot without sharing, lay down on the school bus seat so nobody could sit next to her and she posted a big “KEEP OUT!” sign on the door to her room. Feeling disappointed, she tried another visit to her bubbie for advice. “Bubbie Brenda, I learned how to act—I even starred in a show—but it didn’t work. What should I do?” But before Bubbie Brenda could answer, there was a knock at the door. “Sorry Chaya, but I need to take this visitor. It’s urgent. Just learn how to act, and you will get it.”

Once again, Chaya knew better than to wait around, so she gave her bubbie a kiss and left. On her way, Chaya suddenly had an idea! So instead of heading home, Chaya went straight to Miriam’s Manners Mansion to learn how to act. She signed up for manner lessons and started that afternoon. However, after weeks of learning how to properly sit, eat, drink, shake hands, smile and order food in French, Chaya still did not feel any more generous. More unfortunate was that Bubbie Brenda was on a chesed trip to Central Africa and Chaya had no way to get in touch with her. With things not looking great, Chaya was surprised when the answer she was looking for came her way at school.

The day after her graduation from Miriam’s Manners Mansion, Chaya’s class was learning about parsha Terumah. Her teacher raised the following question: “If the purpose of the Terumah is to give a gift for Hashem, why does Hashem tell Moshe to have Bnei Yisrael ‘take’ a gift for the Mishkan?” After taking a few suggestions from students, Chaya’s teacher gave her own response: “Everyone knows that when you give a gift you are benefitting the person you give it to. However, not everybody realizes if you give a gift, you also receive. By giving, you become a more generous person yourself. Generosity becomes a bit more of a part of you. Therefore, Bnei Yisrael was giving, but they were also taking the benefit of becoming more generous.” This was the answer Chaya was waiting for! “That’s what Bubbie meant by learning to act! If I can act with generosity, I will become more generous!”

After school, Chaya went straight up to her room and stood in front of the mirror, and acted like a generous person. “Of course you can have one!” Chaya said to her reflection. “I’d love to help out! What’s a few dollars between friends? Pay me back if you can, no pressure!” Chaya then gathered a few of her favorite stuffed animals and brought them to her little sister’s room. “Here Dalia, I think you would like these. Enjoy!” Seeing the smile on Dalia’s face confirmed it—Chaya was now a generous person!

Sometimes we want to change things about ourselves but we aren’t sure how. Sometimes we want to accomplish something, but we can’t get ourselves motivated. The opening pesukim in Terumah teach us an important lesson—just do it!

By Yair Daar

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