perhaps like six-year-old Natan did

Friday, 13 May, 2016 - 5:28 am


Dear Friends,


Basel, having an important Jewish community, is visited frequently by Meshulachim looking for donations. This is a concept that has always existed, as part of the mutual responsibility of one Jew to another. Jews from one place go to a community in another place and ask for Tzedaka. I think that one of the signs of a living, vibrant community is the large number of Meshulachim who come to it.

Like in many other places, in Basel as well the Jews of the city open their hearts, their wallets and their homes to the Meshulachim and receive them graciously.

My family and I are also visited by them very frequently, and we welcome them and try to give them whatever we can. Usually it’s just a matter of handing over some money and receiving wishes of “Tizkeh L’Mitzvot” (May you merit to do mitzvahs) in return. But there was one particularly memorable incident that I would like to share with you.

It was about two years ago, noontime. I heard a knocking at the door, and upon opening it saw two Jews from the Holy Land. I was about to offer them my small donation, but they just said, “The truth is, we’re pretty hungry. Can you give us something to eat?”

I was alone at home, and there wasn’t any hot food ready for them, but I had some tuna and vegetables, and eggs as well, and while they drank their coffee I managed to put together a small meal for them.

During the meal they said me, to my great surprise: “Look, normally we wouldn’t come and bother you in the middle of the day. We were just walking down the street and suddenly a sweet child approached us and asked, ‘Are you hungry? Because if you are, we live not far from here. My father is at home and he really likes guests.’ When we asked him what his name was, he answered, ‘Natan Wishedski.’ So we came to you.”

Natan was then six years old. I still remember the tears of joy that suffused my eyes.

When the Rebbe spoke of the mitzvah of “You shall love your fellow like yourself” that appears in this week’s Parasha, Parashat Kedoshim, he emphasized the commentary of the Ba’al Shem Tov, that we have to relate to the mitzvah of loving other Jews as we would relate to a business venture. A person who has a business does not sit at home and wait for customers to come to him; he goes out to the street and looks for them himself. So it is with the mitzvah of loving other Jews, “Ahavat Yisrael.” We have to do it not only when it comes to our door, but, rather, we have to go out and search for customers, perhaps like six-year-old Natan did.


Wishing you a Shabbat of peace, love and brotherhood,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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