The Envelope, Please| March 15, 2022
"I’m appointing you as my agent to distribute my endowment in Israel. No harm will befall anyone who is a mitzvah agent"
Dr. Levine (all names changed) was just finishing up his consultation when he mentioned to Fayge Schwartz, “I’m going to Israel, so your next treatment will be in three weeks.” Dr. Levine then excused himself for a moment, and left the room.
I’d like to show my hakaras hatov to Dr. Levine, Fayge Schwartz thought, but how? Any physical gift would be meaningless to one of the top oncologists at Sloan-Kettering. Then she had an idea. She reached into her purse, pulled out a ten-dollar bill, placed it in an envelope, and wrote “shaliach mitzvah gelt.”
When he returned, Dr. Levine explained she was progressing just fine. Mrs. Schwatz thanked the doctor and added, “Baruch Hashem.”
“Mrs. Schwartz, I’ve been treating you for almost a year now. Your progress has been remarkable. According to my professional prognosis, you will be cancer-free within two months. Why do you always thank G-d when I tell you about your progress? We never pray together. What does G-d have to do with my treatments?”
Fayge Schwartz answered, “Doctor, whether we know it or not, He is always the Master Planner, and ultimately we are in His hands. You will realize that in Israel, I guarantee it.”
Dr. Levine shrugged.
“Oh, I almost forgot, this is for you,” Fayge Schwartz said, handing him the envelope. It’s an insurance policy to have a safe trip to Israel.”
“What does it say?”
“It says, ‘shaliach mitzvah gelt.’ I’m appointing you as my agent to distribute my endowment in Israel. No harm will befall anyone who is a mitzvah agent.”
The doctor looked perplexed. “How will I know where to contribute the funds?”
Fayge Schwartz laughed. “Don’t worry, they’ll find you.”
Dr. Levine put the envelope in his pocket.
Two weeks later, Dr. Levine was visiting the Kosel. He wasn’t sure why. But he knew everyone goes, so he went, too.
As he approached the Wall, a man came over and said, “Do you have shaliach mitzvah gelt from America?”
Dr. Levine was shocked. Mrs. Schwartz was right! The man did find me!
“I have the envelope with me,” Dr. Levine said in a hushed tone. “Where is your office?”
“The soup kitchen I am collecting for is in Meah Shearim,” the man replied. “That’s where my office is. We can take a cab there.”
In minutes, Dr. Levine and his “contact” were standing in a small soup kitchen where 20 men were eating lunch. The room was dilapidated and very much in need of a paint job. Dr. Levine spoke first. “I understand completely why the endowment should go here; the need is obvious. What is your annual budget?”
The man answered, “It’s $100,000.”
“I’m going to make this happen,” Dr. Levine said. He removed the envelope from his pocket and ripped one side open. He blew into the envelope, and out fell a ten-dollar bill.
Dr. Levine turned white. I don’t understand this! he thought. Was Mrs. Schwartz making a joke? She did use the word endowment and she did ask me to distribute her funds. In my synagogue on the Upper East Side, endowments begin at $50,000. How could she give me $10? What should I do now? I did give him my word that I’d make this happen, and it is a good cause.
Dr. Levine took out his checkbook and wrote a check for $100,000.
As he handed over the check, his “contact” tearfully said, “I can’t thank you enough. Today was the end of the money I had left. If you hadn’t come, I would have had no money left to buy food for tomorrow.”
Dr. Levine looked at him for a moment. Then he said, “Whether we know it or not, He is always the Master Planner, and ultimately we are in His hands.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 903)
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