My Chabad journey has its origins rooted in experiences dating back seven years. I have written previously of my journey, initiated and guided by two remarkable Chabad Rabbis – Rabbi Mendy Katz of the Aleph Institute, and Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky. These two men, whom I feel privileged to be associate with, were instrumental in the development of my Jewish Identity and are the reason I regularly attend a Chabad Shul today. They led me from an amorphous association with Judaism to a life committed to Yiddishkeit. They enabled me to experience the Mitzvah of daily prayer and the wrapping of tefillin, studying some Torah every day, ensuring my home is kosher, and finally to learn the value of performing Mitzvah’s every day.
Recently, I was made aware of a situation Rabbi Brashevitzky is facing. He is a “small town” Schliach, in Doral, Florida who has an enormous impact on his small congregation and the surrounding community. His days are dedicated to serving anyone in need that he encounters. He doesn’t wait to be asked for help, he actively seeks out those in need. This is usually at a high cost to his family.
Rabbi B, as he is known to many of us, has a large family, fulfilling the obligation we are presented with to bring as many Jewish souls to life as possible. In fact, he and The Rebbitzen have 10 wonderful children. However, as life goes sometimes, the nachas from the children gets counterbalanced by challenges. You see, child #9 was born a Down’s Syndrome baby. He is the most precious little boy, but his special needs require enormous resources of time and money in order to be met.
If that alone were not enough of a challenge, their 15-year-old daughter recently had to be committed to a treatment facility for a serious medical issue. The combination of these challenges resulted in some crushing financial debt, which in typical Rabbi B. fashion, was always pushed to the back burner in favor of the immediate needs he was confronted with every day.
And this is where the title of this essay starts to make sense. A group of generous benefactors got together and set up an official “Match-A-Thon” for the express purpose of retiring this enormous debt. They pledged $40,000 contingent on obtaining donations of the same amount. This is on an official website, where donors instantly see their contributions double in value. In the course of this campaign, which ends in just several days, Rabbi B. asked me to make some calls for him. I instantly agreed to the task. It would be a Mitzvah for me to donate my time to this worthy cause.
I have made many calls and the donations are coming in, although we are still way short of our goal. After a few days, in a moment of reflection after davening in the morning, I came to a startling revelation! While raising funds for Rabbi B. is a labor of love, I find that I have received incalculable benefits for myself. I have received much more than the performance of a Mitzvah would normally provide. Here is why:
I have had the privilege of speaking about Rabbi B. to a group of people who know him on many different levels. Each conversation becomes much more than an effort to raise funds; rather the conversations are an opportunity to explain the benefits of raising one’s commitment to Yiddishkeit. Who would ever have thought that the act of asking for money, albeit for a great cause, would result in a personal spiritual elevation. I have shared many stories about my times with Rabbi B. during these phone calls. I am exchanging emails with many of these people. I have been able to urge them to contact others, thereby extending the Mitzvahs even further. The anecdotes and stories told to me mostly mirror my own experiences; some things that people shared with me were very personal and I feel privileged that these people were touched so honestly by me that they wanted to share their personal interactions with Rabbi B.
Asking for money turned out to be easier than I expected. Sharing life stories with former strangers is the unexpected benefit of this exercise. It seems that right now for every Mitzvah I perform in relation to this campaign I am becoming the beneficiary of more than I can count.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our Match-A-Thon campaign will be over on Tuesday Evening, April 12, 2016, at 9:00 PM. I would urge everyone who took the time to read this missive to go to our website and help out with this worthy cause. It will not be often in your life that you will have the opportunity to join in a Mitzvah of this magnitude. To participate just log onto this website: https://matchathon.com/chabaddoral
In the future you will look back at all you have reaped from this act and be amazed. I know I am.
With deep gratitude,
Member of Chabad, Delray Beach, Florida