Mitzvah Man Volunteer’s Inside Scoop: Doing Mitzvot Works in Two Directions
– Pnina Souid
One of the Mitzvah Man organization’s long-time volunteers began his hesed “career” slowly, and now is hooked. Here is an open letter he wrote to Michael Cohen, founder of the organization. Let’s hear about his experiences and the way he involved his family in the pursuit of hesed. You will see that he, like so many other Mitzvah Man volunteers, feel that he is not just enriching others’ lives, but the mitzvot he does enriches his life, and the life of his family, too.
I’ve been volunteering since we met years ago. My first “assignment” was to deliver flowers to an elderly lady. I confess I felt a little awkward, but you encouraged me. You said not to worry, she would just be happy to get a visitor. You told me to introduce myself, and tell her I have brought flowers for Shabbat from the Mitzvah Man. You were right! She invited me in, and we had a nice conversation about our families and the wonderful community. She was extremely happy just to have a visitor.
I did this week after week, and we started to develop a nice relationship. She asked about my wife so on the third week I brought her along. The following week I brought my six-year-old son. Our visits were clearly becoming the best part of her week. She did not get out at all, so it meant a lot to her that we would come over to spend time with her. My wife really enjoyed the visits and our son did, too. He always got a piece of candy from her and he very quickly became her favorite. As time went by, he got comfortable, and he felt like he was visiting his own grandma.
As the years went on, we had more and more of these great visits. Honestly, you even forget that you’re going to do a mitzvah! What you’re doing is really its own reward. It’s a pleasure just to see people smile and talk and tell stories about the old days. It’s so fulfilling. Just recently my wife and I were talking about all the things we’ve gotten a chance to be a part of, as we do hesed. Even if there was no reward from Hashem (which we believe there is, of course) the gratitude we have been shown when we visit others, be it in their homes, in a hospital, or in in elderly care center, makes everything else in our lives feel trivial. Doing these mitzvahs has been such a blessing, and has had a profound change in my everyday thinking. So, I want to tell everyone they should try it!
This year you asked if I could help make a Rosh Hashana minyan for someone with medical issues who might not have been able to make it to shul otherwise. It sounded like a very daunting task! But, I called my favorite rabbi and he said he had everything we would need, machzorim, with Hebrew and English, tallitot, and so on. We got a sefer Torah, and someone to be the hazzan. We managed to pick everything up and set it up properly. To add to the festive atmosphere one volunteer set up amazing flower arrangements. Surprisingly, all the work and set up was not hard at all! It was a pleasure to have my son help, too. And both of us received aliyot during the Torah service. I thought to myself, I would have paid to be a part of this! It was truly awesome. We were enwrapped with the beautiful sounds of singing and prayer, where everyone was able to focus, as there was no side talk. I was truly able to focus on what I wanted to pray for, and I was so thankful that I had my son by my side. I don’t think I was the only one who forgot that by participating in this holy minyan we were doing a special hesed. I felt tremendous joy and gratitude as I stood with my arm around my son, as he was standing at the Torah. My wife said she could see my eyes watering. I told her I clearly had allergies. Ha!
And I’ll tell you the best part of doing hesed as a Mitzvah Man volunteer. It’s the gratitude shown not only by the people you visit, but by their families, as well. It is so uplifting you feel like you are floating. The family members can go crazy thanking you. I always say it’s really nothing because that’s how I feel! The truth is I get so much out of it. My wife and son enjoy it so much, too. An extra benefit for us is how nice it is to disconnect from our own things and give back to the community.
The mitzvot I listed above that my family and I took part in are tremendous. The multitude of mitzvot you organize make you a legend. What you have created is so powerful! The woman I mentioned earlier who we used to visit passed away, sadly. So, my son asked me this morning, “Dad when are we going to go visit another person for Shabbat?” I told him soon. Do you realize what this means? At 13 years of age, my son has now ingrained in him that on Fridays it’s a special day where you do a mitzvah that you maybe wouldn’t regularly do. Your organization (in addition to all the other great things you do) has helped to shape the middot of my child! That is really something beautiful! Our family’s circle is small. So we especially appreciate those who have come into our lives as a result of our volunteering with your organization.
None of us volunteers help out because we are motivated to get something in return. But, believe me, the rewards we feel from the gratitude and the smiles of those we help, is beyond measure. I would like to send the message to all members of the community that if you join us in doing hesed through the Mitzvah Man organization, or even by writing a check, YOU A GUARANTYING THE FUTURE OF OUR COMMUNITY.
Thank you Michael, thank you to all the volunteers, and most of all thank you to Hashem, who every day gives us the choice of how to spend our time and money. May we all spend these wisely!