| Shul with a View |

Collect Call

"Don’t worry about collecting. Hashem will take care of that as well"



The first time I met Tara, she told me she was engaged to Heath Eliwatt.

“Excuse me?” I asked. “What is your chassan’s name?”

“Heath. You know, like the candy bar, the Heath Bar.”

I looked at her with a blank expression.

Finally, she said, “Forget about the candy bar. Yes, his name is Heath.”

Tara and Heath were married shortly after and became part and parcel of my shul. Heath became Shmuli, and was soon a regular at daf yomi and a steady Eddie at morning minyan.

As their family grew, the Eliwatts fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Eretz Yisrael. Tara became Miriam, and Shmuli continued to grow spiritually and is now a well-respected Ramat Beit Shemesh community member.

Shmuli loves seeking out the chesed that others are hesitant to do.

Every Erev Yom Kippur, Shmuli wakes before sunrise and makes the rounds at all of the neighborhood shuls appealing for funds for Lema’an Achai, which is the bedrock chesed organization in RBS, assisting thousands of people.

This past Erev Yom Kippur, Shmuli donned his mask, grabbed his credit card machine, and headed out to collect.

He planned to begin at the vasikin minyan and visit as many shuls as possible.

One of his first stops was the famed daf yomi maggid shiur, Rav Eli Stefansky. Shmuli is a regular at Rav Stefansky’s shiur, with dozens who learn in person and hundreds who tune in through Zoom.

After Shmuli made his pitch for Lema’an Achai, he turned to leave.

“Where are you going?” Rav Stefansky asked.

Shmuli answered, “I’m sorry, Rebbi. I’ll have to make up the daf. Today is the day I collect for Lema’an Achai.”

Rabbi Stefansky is not a person easily dissuaded. “Shmuel!” Rav Stefansky roared. “Sit down. Now it’s time for the daf. Open your Gemara, and let’s learn. Don’t worry about collecting. Hashem will take care of that as well.”

Shmuli had no choice. He opened the Gemara and was soon immersed in the sweet sounds of Torah.

After the shiur finished, Shmuli got up, gathered his envelopes and credit card reader, and was off to raise much-needed funds for Lema’an Achai.

Yet as he got into his car, he felt guilty. After all, the organization counted on him to raise a large amount of money on Erev Yom Kippur. Perhaps he had done the wrong thing by taking an hour away from collecting to learn?

Shmuli decided to call Lema’an Achai’s executive director, Rav Avrohom Leventhal.

As soon as Rav Leventhal answered the call, and before Shmuli could say anything, Rav Leventhal screamed, “Shmuli, how did you do that? I can’t believe you did that!”

Shmuli realized he had made the wrong decision. Obviously, he should not have taken time off from collecting to attend the shiur.

Shmuli started to stammer. “I-I’m—”

But before Shmuli could utter another word, Rabbi Leventhal said, “I can’t believe it. During the last hour, we received an enormous pledge from Lakewood! More than anyone has ever made in one day, let alone one hour! This fellow from Lakewood wrote, ‘I am donating this in honor of Shmuel Eliwatt, who listened to his rebbi and sat down to learn the daf.’ I can’t believe it! Shmuli, do you know what he’s referring to?”

Shmuli said, “Well, you see—” However, Rav Leventhal had many matters to take care of before Yom Kippur and simply said, “Shmuli, I don’t need to know how you brought in a donor from Lakewood for such an amount, I just have to tell you to please keep it up.”

Shmuli thought about Rav Stefansky’s words: “Don’t worry about collecting. Hashem will take care of that as well.”

And indeed, as He always does, He took care of everything.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 885)

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