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Direct Transfer

Even after the levayah, as the pair entered the car to return to the airport, Mendel remained glued to his phone


AS the plane landed at Ben-Gurion Airport, Mendel was already texting his wife. Exiting the airport, he met up with his cousin Baruch, who would be taking him straight to Har Hamenuchos. Baruch attempted to offer words of nechamah but Mendel remained singularly focused on his phone.

As they arrived at the beis olam, Baruch heard Mendel say, “Remember to transfer the money.”

Baruch, born and raised in Bnei Brak, understood there were differences in the lifestyles of Americans and Israelis. Mendel, however, had just taken a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles to bury his mother, and all that interested him was his phone. Baruch was shocked by his cousin’s obsession with his phone and his financial dealings.

Was this how Americans showed kavod hameis?

Even after the levayah, as the pair entered the car to return to the airport, Mendel remained glued to his phone.

Although Baruch was not fluent in English, he knew what dollars were, and the constant repeating of the words “transfer funds” and “account balance” grated on his ears.

Finally, Baruch could no longer contain himself as he pulled up to the airport.

Ani lo meivin ot’cha! I don’t understand you! You have just buried your mother, and all you seem to be concerned with is your phone and your money! Where is your kibbud eim?”

Mendel calmly looked back at his cousin, and without the slightest tinge of anger or even defensiveness, said, “Baruch, I must tell you something about my mother.

“My mother was privileged to live a long life. She was born in Budapest in 1927. Her family was well-off, and they lived comfortably. When the Nazis took over Hungary, the family was moved to the ghetto during Chanukah of 1944.

“The family lost all of their wealth. But there were outstanding debts that could be collected, as her father had loaned many Jews huge sums of money. My mother’s father wanted to collect on the unpaid debts. He felt it was the only way for the family to survive.

“My mother’s mother, a very calm woman who never intruded into her husband’s affairs, spoke up this one time and objected. ‘No, I don’t think we should collect the debts. These people who owe us the money are in worse shape than we are. Asking them to pay will cause them hardship. Instead, let us send them some of our stored food. We must show them we have no bad feelings toward them, although they owe us money.’

“Every Chanukah my mother would tell this story of her mother and how it instilled within her the middah of vatranus. And my mother followed her mother’s ways. Although she loaned large sums of money, she would never press anyone who could not repay.

“Before my mother passed away, she left me with one request. ‘Mendel, I know you lent money to the Goldbergs* for their upcoming chasunah, and I know they have not paid you back. Promise me that you will attend their chasunah and continue to financially assist them. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable when they see you in shul.’”

“Baruch,” Mendel said, “the Goldbergs’ chasunah is tonight. With my mother’s petirah and all the accompanying arrangements, I forgot to remind my wife to attend the chasunah and assist them financially.

“I had to fulfill my mother’s wishes. I was on the phone to remind my wife to attend the wedding and transfer funds to help the Goldbergs. Every minute on the phone and every text was to honor my mother and preserve her legacy.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1003)

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