A Deep Lesson in Kindness I Learned From The Most Unexpected Place

Today was a typical day: carpool pick-up, after school errands, and a trip to the local pizza store for dinner. When we got out of the car, I grabbed two quarters from my wallet for the parking meter. I handed the first quarter to my younger (four-year-old) daughter who promptly told me, “My sister can go first.”

“That’s very generous of you,” I beamed and gave her a big hug. The girls love feeding the meters!

When I handed the second quarter to my six-year-old daughter she asked, “Do you have any more of these?”

“No,” I replied, not sure what she was getting at.

“Oh, OK. In that case I’ll let my sister have this one,” she said as she handed the coin back to me.

“That’s so generous!” I exclaimed and gave her a kiss, “but don’t worry, she already has a quarter and she wants you to have the first turn at the meter!” When the girls realized what had just happened they giggled and hugged each other.

Upon seeing this, I was reminded of a very similar story told about two brothers. One was married with kids, the other was single and lived alone. Their houses were right next to each other, and their backyards connected. Every night, each brother would sneak out of his respective home and secretly leave some of his crops on the other’s property. The married brother wanted to help his single brother – he was all alone and had no one else to look out for him. The single brother wanted to help his married brother. He had many mouths to feed, and the single brother wanted to relieve the burden.

After years of carrying out this ritual, one night the two brothers happened to leave their homes at the same exact time and their paths crossed along the way. Each brother saw the other with his handful of crops. When the brothers realized what was going on, they dropped their loads, embraced, and cried on each other’s shoulders.

We’re told, that when Hashem (God) saw this scene play out, He decided to build the Beis HaMikdash (The Holy Temple in Jerusalem) in this exact spot. Now I had heard this story years ago, and I thought I understood it then: the brothers did a mitzvah, it made Hashem happy, so He decided to set up shop there.

Tonight, though, after seeing my daughters’ generosity, I realized that there was a deeper reason as to why the spot was chosen. Although we have a very hard time grasping what it was like to have a Beis HaMikdash, (since it’s been gone for two thousand years) one thing we do understand is that it was built so that Hashem could be close to us.

This evening, when I saw my little girls taking care of each other so nicely, treating each other so kindly, I understood exactly why Hashem chose the spot of the brother’s embrace as His Holy of Holies. When we see our kids behaving in such selfless, ego-free ways, all we want to do is be close to them.

May we make Our Father in Heaven proud with how we treat one another and merit to have this Tisha B’Av be the last one forever.


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  • Avatar photo Ella S says on September 18, 2009

    So sweet!!

  • Avatar photo Simone says on September 18, 2009

    It’s wonderful how you find a Torah connection in everything that happens in your life.

  • Avatar photo rutimizrachi says on September 20, 2009

    You go, girls! The only way I can relate to Hashem is as our Father… and it seems clear that if all of us in the family of Jews could follow your daughters’ example, our Tatte b’Shamayim would be proud of us, and would end this Galut. May it be so this year.

  • Avatar photo Melanie Levenstein says on September 20, 2009

    I think this was your best blog yet! Keep ’em coming…
    Oh, and Shana tova to you, too.

  • Avatar photo Linda B says on September 27, 2009

    This is such a wonderful post. May you be sealed in the Book of Life
    Linda B

  • Avatar photo Devora says on July 24, 2012

    I wish this was so. I am single and alone, I made a shidduch and my sister is married with 4 beautiful children. Sh is very wealthy, I am not. I have done my best to take care of her, she has not however seen it as her responsibility to do the same. If I come & beg for help, she will discuss the “merits” of my request with her husband and they pass judgement on weather what Im asking for is what they are willing to LOAN me the money to do. NOT give me, LOAN me. We are an observant family so its not that this story isn’t known to my sibling. WHatever. This is what Jews and Judaism has become. Welcome to Brklyn where eJews only look observant. They have the outer trappings of observance, its all a facade. Its no wonder Ive lost my religion and became Chozeret ba’sheela.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on July 24, 2012

      Devora – I’m sorry for your difficulties, but the way your sister and brother-in-law behave is not what “Judaism has become,” it’s one example out of an entire nation. I am certainly not saying that all observant Jews are perfect, but the ideals never changed even though some people fall short. And we remain in exile because we continue to fall short. If you believe in the ideals, which I think you do, then reclaim them. We need as many people trying their best to create as much merit for our people as possible.

      One way to respond to seeing a “religious Jew” misbehave is to throw it all away and say “I don’t want to be a part of what this person does.” The other way is to say, “if so many people are missing the boat, even more responsibility is on my shoulders.”

  • Avatar photo Elisabeth says on July 24, 2012

    This is very sweet! Your girls sound awesome. Does this mean that if Hashem grants us our temple back, that he will have alternate location of sibling kindness to choose from? I hope it wasn’t your favorite pizza place…

  • Avatar photo Mayer says on July 25, 2012

    One way to respond to seeing a “religious Jew” misbehave is to throw it all away and say “I don’t want to be a part of what this person does.” The other way is to say, “if so many people are missing the boat, even more responsibility is on my shoulders.”

    — Very well said.


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