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  Chapter 45 from
She Shall Be Praised
The faith and courage of extraordinary women

By Avraham Erlanger 


Other Available Chapters
23  31  62  77  91 


Small Deeds, Great Rewards

It was dusk, and another day in Vilna was winding down. Laborers and shopkeepers were making their way to the beis midrash, to spend a sweet hour side by side with bnei Torah.

Two women were going on their way through the streets of Vilna. They were the Vilna Gaon’s wife and her friend. Throughout the day they had been knocking on doors, raising money for an indigent bride so that she might be wed in a respectable fashion. This charitable quest was urgent, as the match itself depended on it. Whenever the women’s energy began to flag, they would remind themselves of the important mitzvah in which they were engaged and doggedly continue on.

As dusk fell, they caught sight of one of the town’s wealthy woman. Eagerly, they waved at her to wait. Rushing up to where she was standing, they poured out the tale of the poor, orphaned bride. The rich woman pledged a generous donation.

Reaching the end of their day’s work at last, the two friends prepared to separate. As they stood together for a last few minutes, their conversation turned to spiritual matters. One of the things they discussed was the World to Come. Out of this came a mutual pledge: The first of them to depart this world would visit the other within 30 days of her passing, to describe Heaven’s doings to the friend left behind.

And so it came to pass. When one of them died, she kept her promise and came back to her friend three days later. It was forbidden, she explained, to describe the World to Come. But there was one thing she was permitted to tell. The wave of their hands, as they had signaled the rich woman to wait so that they could solicit charity from her, had been duly recorded in Heaven -- and its reward was very great indeed.

 
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