My wife and I would like to express our hakarat hatov to Mathew Halpern and to your shul, Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, for emulating Avrohom Avinu (who always had his tent open on all sides to invite guests in) when he opened the door to your shul at about 10:00 p.m. last Thursday evening (during the relatively small snow storm that no one will ever forget) for us and anyone else who was stuck on the roads locally…to come in, relax, use the facilities, have some warm drinks, make ourselves comfortable, watch TV…and he even provided blankets and pillows for my granddaughter and her friend to lay down and rest/sleep until whatever time necessary, until the totally gridlocked roads were cleared so that we would then be able to go home.
We had picked up my granddaughter and her friend from Kushner Academy (in Livingston) at 4:30 p.m. for the (normally 20-minute) drive home to West Orange, and five hours later we were virtually at a standstill on Rt. 10, and still three-plus miles from our house.
Luckily, we were almost by the driveway to your shul, and we decided to drive in and see if, by some miracle, perhaps someone would be there and they would let us in, and, b”H, when we drove around the back, we saw the light on in the office, and, as soon as Mathew saw us from his window, he immediately came to the door, opened it and told us to come in and make ourselves comfortable, and stay as long as necessary (which could’ve been all night).
Luckily, my daughter’s friend’s father, who is an ex-IDF paratrooper, and a trained paramedic, has a four-wheel-drive Jeep, is very experienced in driving on ice and knew all the back roads… came to get us… He got to us about 1:00 a.m. and we were home in about 15-20 minutes (via all back roads—which most people dared not attempt to traverse, since they were very hilly and very icy, making them virtually impassible for most normal drivers with normal cars).
Hashem sent us two Malachim to get us home safe and sound (and a lot earlier than most) and without having to spend most of (or all of) the night in our car (as many did) or abandoning it (as many did) or getting into any accidents (as many did).
So, once again, a huge yasher koach/thank you to Mathew and your shul for your wonderful act of chesed.Charlie Aptowitzer
P.S. On a related note that highlights the beauty of giving tzedakah and the fact that Hashem openly promises to always return whenever one gives, we would like to share a follow-up story. As thanks for their kindness, we made a tzedakah contribution ($180) to Mathew’s shul’s chesed fund after the storm. The very next day, from completely out of left field, the money we had just contributed (actually more than double that) came back to us from a totally unbelievable source of which we never would have imagined or dreamed. This once again shows that God’s promise regarding giving tzedakah, that you will always get it back, is 100 percent true.
Usually, however, in our experience, it’s only the same amount as what one gives, and typically when it is given without conscious thought that it will come back to you. However, the extra amount seems to come only when you give over and above what you might ordinarily give (or can reasonably do) and if, and only if, you don’t have at all in mind that that is what will happen.