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Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Unsung Hero

Sometimes we need the chizuk (moral strength) from hearing about exceptional people, especially in "exceptional" times like today. Job loss; financial worries galore; pressures on a national scale (Obama just won't take no for an answer!) make daily life extremely challenging. We get pressured and feel down. Personally, hearing about real life Jewish heroes and heroines gives me emotional strength and stamina to deal with the challenges in my life. Bniyahu Rein, may Hashem avenge his death, from Karni Shomron is one example of a Jew whose story must be heard to be believed. So, I want to tell you about another striking individual we can all admire.

Her name is Simcha and she lives in Netivot. She is Sephardic and about forty years of age. Simcha is involved in an absolutely incredible amount of activity benefiting others, and all she does is done without fanfare, with as few individuals as possible aware of her actions. She is an ardent Zionist and her entire life is chesed and concern for our brothers and sisters in Am Yisrael. I find myself blessed to count her among my acquaintances.

What makes her so special and what exactly are her deeds? Few know the extent of what she undertakes. Many people know her only from her work on behalf of Netivot's poor. She has a gemach for poor brides and anyone needful of food or clothing knows that Simcha will aid them. Please don't be mistaken: Simcha is far from wealthy-- she works as a cleaning lady. But she literally lives for others who live....and those who have died.

Chevra Kadisha. A phrase that gives us all goosebumps. Despite the fact that "Chesed shel Emet" is the truest act of lovingkindness possible without recompense, not many men or women feel comfortable washing and preparing bodies for burial. Simcha was initiated into this mitzva when she became Bat Mitzva; she is a descendent of a most prestigious Sephardic rabbinical dynasty. This is a fact I only learned years after meeting her, because she is extremely humble about herself and her activities. This in an age when most people want that plaque put up in Shul, or their community's praise. Even the motzei Shabbat when the Cast Lead Operation began (with many rockets causing havoc in Netivot,) Simcha was in the cheder tahara preparing an elderly woman for burial.

Whenever there is a funeral, she will leave her job, do what needs to be done and later commence her cleaning activities. Her employers all adore her, as do all who have the pleasure knowing her. Do you know a happy person around whom others gravitate like moths to a bright lamp? Simcha is one of them. Her countenance is not merely attractive; she is truly regal! Her immense yirat shamayim and midot (refined character traits) are stamped on her face as is the joy she shows in helping others. Whenever someone apologizes for troubling her and causing difficulty, her answer is, "It's not hard. Nothing is hard. Hashem will surely help." She then quietly goes from door to door until she finds the aid required.

Let me give you further proof that Simcha's righteousness goes beyond the norm of other good hearted women who do chesed. She and her husband "adopted" a single man whom I'll call Pinny. Estranged from his Netivot relatives, for years Pinny had lived alone and was a frequent Shabbat guest at their table. He was tragically killed in the Cast Lead Operation while in milluim (reserve duty.) Simcha organized a children's tehillim group in his memory and her husband said Kaddish for this poor soul, as he had no children to do so. Pinny appeared in a dream and told her that he bequeaths his car to her for her Chesed activities. So well known was her support for this lonely man when alive that all Pinny's relatives believed her description of the dream and finally now she has a car to aid her saintly pursuits.

I occasionally suffer from a health issue that taxes me both physically and emotionally. In times like this I'll call Simcha in order to find..... simcha (joy!) She is remarkable and I always feel rejuvenated and upbeat even after a three minute conversation. We usually can't converse longer than that because she is so busy with much more important pursuits! May we continued to be blessed with the thousands of "secret" heroes and heroines that live among us and in their quiet manner are paving the way for Moshiach's arrival.


Keli Ata said...

Fabulous post. Simply fabulous! It made my day! Thank you for writing it and writing it so beautifully.

G-d bless Simcha for all of her selfless acts of kindness.

Netivotgirl said...

Amen, and thanks for the kind words!