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The COVID-19 Diaries day 12

04/03/2020 01:50:52 AM


ליל שישי, ט' בניסן, תש"פ
Thursday, April 2, 2020

The challenge of taking

Some people struggle to give. Others struggle to take.

Everyone has opportunities to give and opportunities to take. We appropriately try to train ourselves to be givers and not takers. Sonei Matanos Yichyeh - one who hates (a strong word) gifts, lives. Yet, being in quarantine, due to two of my boys testing positive for COVID-19, I was put in a situation where I have no choice but to take. We can’t go to my in-laws for Yom Tov - in fact, today my Mother-in-law got her test results - negative for COVID-19. So we CERTAINLY can’t go there for Pesach. Which left us in a situation of inability to leave home, with no food or utensils for Pesach! That’s kind of tricky. We were left with no choice but to ask others for help.

So one Tzaddik got us produce from where he works, another did ALL our food shopping for us. A worker at Auction Mart patiently went through a whole list with my wife, had everything toveled and delivered. One Tzaddik picked up food from Bais Yaakov for us that will get the kinderlach by for another few days, and another let me know when he was going to the store in case anyone needed anything (which we did!).

The most out of the ordinary thing that occurred so far though, is the “random” family that is renting from Rabbi Richard across the street. They must have seen my kinderlach playing outside. So a few girls came to our door and asked if we would take their extra milk since they don’t eat dairy (one of the siblings apparently is highly allergic). We gratefully took several half gallons off their hands. The next day they came back with more, and then offered us two boxes of food they received from school in Monroe that they weren’t going to eat! We now have enough deli, rye bread, apples and cereal to last until Pesach. Until then, we weren’t sure what we were going to do about shalosh seudos this coming Shabbos; being so focused on Pesach and formulating precise shopping lists, we were kind of ignoring this coming Shabbos - but now we have tuna and egg salad and pears in syrup too! All thanks to the random chessed of the neighbors across the street that we don’t even know.

Yes, HKBH still gives manna. And it tastes pretty good.

The feeling I want to focus on though, is the opportunity to take. It doesn’t feel good to have to take, it feels even worse to have to ASK to take. But, when HKBH puts you in a situation, when you have no choice, He is telling you that He wants to give others the opportunity to GIVE... to you.

Chazal tell us that Elisha haNavi is the model for “taking” from others. He accepted gifts (except from Naaman!). The question is how he could violate the principle of sonei matanos yichyeh?

I think the answer is that when you take, because you want to enable the other to give, you are not actually taking. If someone wants to give you a present to show their appreciation for you and your relationship and you refuse, you create distance. By accepting the gift, you become closer.

We should never be takers, but sometimes we are forced to take or even to ask. In those situations, we should graciously accept, because, as funny as it sounds, when others want to give, and we accept... we “take” - the truth is, that we are actually giving.

  9 Sivan 5784