by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
Someone gave me $75 to give as charity, with explicit instructions that it was to go for “outreach.” When you are appointed a messenger, you must be very careful to fulfill the wishes of the one who sends you. Whatever we do in this world comes back to us according to the way that we do it. So, if a messenger changes the donor’s instructions, not only does he cheat the person who was supposed to receive the donation, he is also responsible for changing the reward that comes back to the donor.
I thought, “Now, where is the best place to give this?” Obviously, the tefillin stand at the Kotel came to mind. But then I thought, “Although they surely need money to support the tremendous costs of maintaining that stand, I would like this money to make some kind of difference in someone’s life.”
Immediately, one man came to mind. There are a lot of good guys who work at the tefillin stand, but one of them is really outstanding. I decided to give the money to him. But I had to think of a way to give it so it would be used specifically for outreach, and not for his general support.
I walked up to him at the Kotel and said, “I know that you wanted to buy something, but you didn’t do it because you didn’t have the money.”
I was trying to make sure that he would accept the money and use it according to the instructions. I really had no idea if he wanted to buy something or not, but all of us live on limited incomes, so I felt safe in saying what I said. His eyes popped open!
He told me that the young tourist standing a few feet away had put on tefillin, and the volunteer who had helped him offered to use the tourist’s camera to take a picture of him wearing tefillin. The tourist agreed, and the volunteer dropped the camera! It broke. What a mess! It ruined the entire experience for the young visitor. Even though the damage was small and a piece of tape patched it up, rightfully, the young man was upset that his new camera was broken. It could not be fixed to look right, and the young man did not want to have to keep a piece of tape on his camera.
Now the real problem came. The volunteer who dropped the camera has zero money… He is really poor. A new camera would cost around $150. My friend wanted to give him the money, but he didn’t have that much; he did have $75 of his own that he was willing to give to the tourist. (You can see what a loving guy he is.) He wasn’t obligated to replace it, but he didn’t want the tourist to go away feeling hurt.
I said, “I have $75 to give, but the $75 that I have is only for outreach, not for soothing over a young tourist’s feelings.”
He said, “Look, I will give him the $75 that you have, and I will add $75 of my own money, and I will end up with a great camera for only $75. I’ll use it here to send pictures to the people who put on tefillin but don’t have cameras.
What happened? The young tourist went away happy, with money for a new camera. The poor volunteer was bailed out of a really tough spot. My friend got a great camera for only $75, and the donor got his exact wishes fulfilled. And me, what did I get out of it? Great joy.
The next day, my friend told me, “You don’t know how I felt when you came up with that money. I felt like you were sent from Heaven.”
I said, “I was.”