Some requests to the Mitzvah Man hotline can be answered within a day. Others require more intensive tefillah for siyatta d’shmaya. Here is one example of a first-time request that came in some time ago. A woman named Laura, a young mother with children aged five, seven, and nine, called for help. “My husband is in a prison in upstate New York,” she said. “It is four hours from our home in Brooklyn. I have no car. Visiting hours are Sundays and Thursdays. My children miss their father terribly. If you can find a ride for us, even a few times during the year, we will be very grateful.” She paused and took a breath. “According to his sentence he’ll be there for three years.”
The Mitzvah Man was taken aback for a moment and then answered with all the confidence he could muster, “Laura, I will get back to you. Right now, I do not know of a driver available for this, but I will do my best.”
Who could the Mitzvah Man turn to? He prayed. He asked Hashem to please help him to help Laura and her children to get to visit with their husband and father. Four hours away to upstate? These are necessary visits for the stability of this family, for three long years.
The Mitzvah Man put the word out for a volunteer driver. Texts were sent, emails, public postings, and whatever he could think of, but no one responded. He even called some of the other hesed organizations to see if they could help. Nothing. Feeling helpless, he called Laura. “We have nothing yet, but we are not giving up. You are in our prayers.”
A week later, the Mitzvah Man received a call from Shlomo.
“Someone forwarded me your request. I drive my van to that prison every Sunday and Thursday, leaving Brooklyn at 8:00 a.m. and returning after visiting hours are over at 5:00 p.m. I would be happy to take this family every Sunday and Thursday for the time that their loved one is incarcerated in that prison. This is my hesed. At one time I was in Rikers Island and had no visits from anyone. Of all the difficulties of prison life, that was the worst.
“I promised Hashem that when I would be released from my five-year sentence, I would drive people every Sunday and Thursday to visit their loved ones in prison. Miraculously, I was released 14 months before my sentence was up. I have been doing this hesed for the last three years.”
The Mitzvah Man couldn’t believe how precisely Hashem answered his prayers. He called Laura immediately to tell her the good news.
And for the next three years, every week, Shlomo drove the children and others to the prison to see their loved ones.
Indeed, it is only Hashem who could possibly have coordinated the rides to the prison!