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  Chapter 62 from
She Shall Be Praised
The faith and courage of extraordinary women

By Avraham Erlanger 


Other Available Chapters
23  31  45  77  91 


A Life of Giving

Mrs. Chaya Schechter’s home in Tel Aviv was reminiscent of the tent of Avraham Avinu. Countless visitors passed through her door and received what they needed -- and more. Not a day passed without its share of guests. Great men of Torah dined at her table, as did simpler folk as well. She and her husband treated each guest as though he were a king. It was not uncommon for visitors -- sometimes large groups of 10 to 30 people -- to extend their stay for months at a time. Everyone felt at home there. They felt wanted and respected.

Once, a young family consisting of three small children and their ailing mother stayed with the Schechters. Mrs. Schechter tended personally and devotedly to the young woman’s every need. With great maternal caring she made sure that the mother had the best food to eat and that she got sufficient rest. Needless to say, she also took it upon herself to care for the children. After an extended period of time, the mother finally recovered her health and her strength and wished to return to her own home. When she and her children went to take their leave of Mrs. Schechter, they were astounded at her reaction. “Why are you rushing away so soon?” She truly found it difficult to part from her guests.

The wife of a certain rebbe relates that one night during Israel’s War of Independence, with Jerusalem under attack, her family fled under cover of darkness to Tel Aviv. Arriving in that city, they had no idea where to turn next. Then, remembering the Schechters, they headed in that direction. The large family arrived at the Schechter house in the middle of the night -- to be welcomed with warmth and joy. To free up some beds, Mrs. Schechter moved several of her children from their beds and set down mattresses for them on the floor. When the Rebbetzin saw this, she protested, “Please, let them sleep, we’ll use the mattresses.” Mrs. Schechter responded: “They’ve already slept enough, now they can help others.”

The desire to give to others was present in her even as a young child. It was a time when there was no work to be had, and where there is no livelihood there is no bread in the house. In innocence, the little girl went to her parents and said, “I’m such a hard worker. You can sell me as a servant for a good price and then the whole family will have food to eat. When things get better you can buy me back.”

Her son has this to add about his exemplary mother. Once, she sent him to a neighbor’s house to borrow a sum of money. When he returned with the money, she set the envelope aside and left it, untouched. The boy questioned why she asked to borrow money if she was not going to use it. Mrs. Schechter explained to her son that she did it so that the neighbors would feel comfortable coming to them for a loan in their own time of need!

 
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