| Musings |

The Nachas Call

“Did you also call Asher’s mother, Tzivia,” I asked, “and tell her how wonderful her son is?”


When my children were younger, I loved to send mitzvah notes to school for every good deed they did. Mitzvah trees, mitzvah charts, and mitzvah banners flanked the preschool and elementary school walls.

I remember tearing many a piece of lined paper from various notebooks to write those mitzvah notes on. I also recall the numerous times I stopped at a red light while driving carpool on a busy school morning and quickly marking up the other side of an old shopping list, store receipt, or hot cup lid with a mitzvah note.

It was nachas for them and nachas for me.

Now that I’m a Bubby, the mitzvah note legacy continues. I’ve written countless mitzvah notes for my grandchildren over the years. But these notes aren’t written on just any scrap of paper I can find. Perish the thought! Mothers can be harried enough to write on anything, but this Bubby sends in mitzvah notes on decoratively designed card stock.

And while I relish hearing and writing good reports about my grandchildren, somehow it’s not quite the same as hearing accolades about the adult children I poured my heart and soul into raising. It’s such a brachah to know you raised a stable, good, kind-hearted, helpful individual. I mean, we all think that of our children, but it’s nice to get confirmation from others, too!

Recently, I got a call from my good friend Devorah, who told me she had a flat tire on a busy thoroughfare. Before she had time to call AAA, a car pulled over next to her and out jumped her son’s friend Asher, whom she hadn’t seen in many years. Asher quickly assessed the situation and changed her tire right away.

Devorah couldn’t stop raving about Asher who, she said, was there to help an “old damsel in distress!”

“Did you also call Asher’s mother, Tzivia,” I asked, “and tell her how wonderful her son is?”

Devorah was flabbergasted. “I should call Tzivia out of the blue and tell her how helpful her son was?” she asked. “Why, I haven’t spoken to her since the boys were in yeshivah katanah together, and that was almost 20 years ago!”

After some encouragement, i.e., verbal arm twisting, I convinced Devorah to call Asher’s mother. Devorah called me afterward to tell me how much Tzivia had appreciated the call. They’d actually stayed on the phone for quite a while catching up.

My inspiration for making nachas calls came from my mother. I can vividly recall her sitting at her desk and writing thank-you cards for any act of kindness someone had done toward her. The delightful phone calls and exuberant hugs she got from the lucky recipients of her beautifully written notes made a lasting impression on me.

After raising this topic with a few friends, many of them told me about nachas calls or notes they’d made or written over the years. A supervisor at a high-tech firm called a recent almanah, lauding her newly promoted daughter. A friend who recently purchased a fixer-upper house called the parents of their contractor, raving about the job their son was doing. A woman so joyful that her teenage son was enjoying learning for the first time called the school’s menahel and the rebbi’s parents who lived in another country to sing his praises.

But the story that really touched my heart was when my close friend told me about the cards and gifts she sent to a group of her son’s friends and their parents who’d helped her son when he was seriously ill. She said the parents who’d raised these exceptionally caring, thoughtful young men deserved some acknowledgment, too.

Laughingly my friends also mentioned that no one has ever hung up on them when they made a nachas call; instead the thrilled parent usually exclaimed, “Tell me more!”

When I come back from a visit with my married children, I feel it’s so important to reach out to my machutanim and give them an update. To hear compliments from a father- or mother-in-law is truly, in my humble opinion, the highest compliment you can get about your child. (In fact, one of my mechutenestes and I always “argue” over which of us got the better deal when our kids married — she getting my son or me getting her daughter! It’s an ongoing feud.)

Everyone always seems to be in a rush these days, but really, how much time does it take to make a nachas phone call? Or jot down a few lines on a card and send it via snail mail? Email is also an option. A shadchan I know told me how much it means to her that every year one happily married couple she set up sends her updated pictures of their family on the anniversary of their first date.

Pick up a pen or phone or keyboard when someone does something nice for you and share the Yiddishe nachas!

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 734)

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