Dear Crown Heights,
I am a procrastinator, and should’ve written this letter about a year ago when I needed to, but I did not. I am ashamed, this was always my plan, to thank him publicly, but I have not. And now, I believe, is the perfect opportunity to do so.
My wife and I were down in the dumps financially. I’m not a gezhe nothing, my parents aren’t rich, she doesn’t get discounts at any of the crown heights stores because our parents know the owner, or because our families donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the yeshivas and girl schools. In fact, we’re nobodies. We’re both BT’s and we really didn’t have much money on either of our side.
We did, however, have two beautiful kinderlach, B”H. Getting to my point, when we tried to line up things in our lives to make more money, when we tried to make it work, at every corner, we met a red light. No success. That’s how G-d planned it. Well, what is a young couple with two children to do?
By the way, for those scoffers who leave annoying comments, let me just clear it up right now, my wife had a full time job, and I was in college back then as a full time student.
Before things got really bad, we shopped at the shuk all the time. We weren’t always destitute. But here we were. Broke, and hungry. Our car had just been towed away for parking tickets that couldn’t be paid—thank you NYC—our previous car which we bought with tax return money broke down, my wife had no way to get to work. If the dumps are all the way on the bottom, then we were there.
Above all else, we were hungry. We needed food, but G-d knows how high the cost of food got. So I stopped going to the shuk or any place. I started going to food pantries. It got bad, folks, really bad.
One day, after our junk car got towed away, and things were really bad, I went to the shuk, and looked Shloime Ifergan in the eyes, and half-jokingly said, “You don’t have any dead-broke-discounts, do you?”
Shloime simply smiled a very warm smile, a very reassuring smile, and replied, “Go get whatever you want from the store. Anything you want, and come to me afterwards.”
I figured he’s giving me an awesome opportunity to save some serious cash, and went and got whatever I thought would raise our spirits for shabbos. I got some awesome stuff that day, and my wife of course prepared it really well, and there were guests, B”H.
The secret here is, folks, that Shloimy, after I came with a shopping cart that was already throwing up from all of the food I packed into it, simply said when I got to him, “Have a good shabbos.”
“But I didn’t pay yet, Shloimy.”
He came close to me and whispered, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t even worry about it.”
It was embarrassing, yes, but I felt so relieved, like G-d in heaven brought me to this man so he could help.
I didn’t tell my wife how I got all this stuff. But Shloimy really cushioned our fall. And not just once.
Each week for a few weeks more, he would extend the same chesed to me and my family. And finally, when things started picking up a bit, financially, we started to pay. But not full prices. NO NO NO. Knowing my situation, he would give me amazing discounts. Like 30 to 50 percent off the entire purchase. And this went on for a year, people. A full year.
Well, B”H, we’re well now financially, I finally finished school, and am now still a nobody, you won’t recognize me in the street as a somebody, and we may cross each other’s path every day, or daven shachris, mincha, and maariv together in 770 every single day.
But for about 52 consecutive weeks, 2 years ago, to an Ish Chesed, a Ba’al Rachmanus, a true shalom-bayis-and-life-saver like Shloime Ifergan, I was truly a somebody.
Shloimie, You probably remember me, unless of course there are countless others who you quietly helped along the path of your business dealings, but you do remember me, if these details are familiar, and you know who I am, I ask that you don’t make an issue out of it the next time we see each other. I would be embarrassed, and I hope I haven’t embarrassed you in any way, shape, or form during this letter.
May The Ribono Shel Olam truly bless your family with every brocho possible.