There are times when we are young and we need to take a lot of responsibility to do the things that must get done. When you have a large family, everyone has to help and often what is important to you doesn’t happen. My Bubie says that this can be difficult but it also has its blessings. It means that you learn how to do things by yourself and after that, you become stronger in your belief that you can do things on your own. However, my Bubie thinks that it is important to get help too. Sometimes help can come from a parent, a friend, a neighbor, a Bubie, a Zada, a Rav or a teacher. Sometimes help can come from a person in a uniform or a person who seems like a simple worker who just wants to aid you in fulfilling the mission that you have set for yourself. Bubie says that help comes if your mission is important, true, real and if you make your own efforts, what we call, hishtadlut.
Here is a story about a very motivated young boy who had a desire to build his family a succah for the Succoth holidays.
There was once a boy who knew that if he wanted something done, he would have to rely on his own efforts. He had a family, but his parents were always busy with many of their own interests and when he asked for their help they would say, "Later, of course we will get to this later".
Now the boy, David, knew that it is important to be patient, but what he learned also, was that sometimes "later", meant "never" and things just didn't happen. So he decided that if something was really important to him, he would have to figure out a way to do it himself.
The holiday of Succoth was coming and the family still did not have the walls, the schach (roof fronds), or the decorations for a succah. Last year David remembered that the succah was barely built on time. It happened so late that he had fallen asleep and not been able to take part in building the succah. This year, he decided that he would build the succah with or without help .
How can a young boy of 12 buy and build a succah by himself? Then he remembered that once his Bubie and Zada had told him that he was never alone. All he had to do was to begin his mission and help would come from many different places so that he could complete what he had started. This help would only come if the mission he was on was “real”.
What did it mean, "if it was real"? David remembered his Bubie telling him a story about how a friend had bought her a cactus plant and for three years, every two weeks, his Bubie would water the plant and even talk to it, telling the plant how beautiful it was; his Bubie had a friend who believed that even plants needed words of encouragement!
One day, Bubie decided that the cactus needed a bigger pot, and so she took it outside to replant it in a newer and larger pot. When Bubie took the plant out of its pot, she noticed that in fact, this was not a real plant but a plastic cactus! "Oy", said Bubie, "how could I have been fooled all of these years into thinking that I was taking care of a real plant!"
She started laughing at how silly she had been and then she turned to David and said, "David, there are many things in the world that appear beautiful and real, but in the end they turn out to be fake. They turn out to be not real at all. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is 'real' and what is 'fake' but this is also part of our life's work."
So now David was faced with the decision, was his desire to build a succah a "real" mission, one for which he would receive help, or was it something that he should wait for, until his father eventually built the succah, and he was just looking for some project to keep himself from being bored? He decided that he would never know until he started. If he received the much needed help, then he surmised that in fact, this was "real"!
The first action that David took was to find the measuring tape and to measure the area on the patio where he would put the succah. He wrote down all of the dimensions on a piece of paper.
Next, he went to the store where they were cutting wood for the walls of the succah and gave the dimensions to the owner." I need four wooden walls according to these dimensions", he told the carpenter sawing the wood.
"How much will that cost?" The carpenter took the piece of paper and looked carefully at the measurements.
"Well", he said, "Do you want windows in any of these walls? That will cost you more."
David thought and then he said, "No windows, just the walls".
The carpenter gave him a price and David almost lost his breath. "That is very expensive!" he said. "Can you do better? I'm building this succah for my family and we do not have a lot of money for something so expensive".
David reached into his pocket, took out his wallet, to look at how much money he had saved working in stores and selling Succoth decorations with his friend. Just as he opened his wallet the carpenter gave him a different price that was less because he could see the earnestness and honesty in the young boy's eyes.
In their community having a beautiful succah meant that you took the holiday seriously and wanted to create a "real" home for your family during the seven days. You could have the smallest and most simple house, but your succah and its decorations should reflect how grateful you are to God for protecting you and giving you everything that you needed throughout the year.
David took out all of the money he had in his wallet, knowing that it would not cover the costs the walls, and began to count, "100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 Shekels”! He knew he had not earned that much money. "How in heaven’s name did 1,000 Shekels end up in his wallet?” Then, he heard a voice in is head. It was his Bubie's voice. " It is hard to tell what is real in this world, but when you find it you will be able to complete your mission."
There, on the table of the carpenter's shop was the exact amount of money that David would need for the walls of his succah! The carpenter told him to return later that day to pick up the walls.
When David left, he thought to himself, "how in the world am I going to move all of these walls to my house? I'm only a young boy."
When he returned to the shop, his friend Simcha was there to pick up his walls and he had a big dolly that he had borrowed from another store. "You help me take my walls home and afterwards, I will help you take your walls to your home. Then we will return the dolly to the vegetable store," said Simcha, joyfully (like his name).
So the two boys worked late into the evening, rolling the walls first to Simcha's home and then to David's home. It was a lot of work but it felt good to do because it meant that this year, David and his family would have a succah in time for the holiday and it was David's efforts that had made it happen!
After Yom Kippur, when it was time to build the succah, David and his Tate (father) and his Zada (grandfather) began to build it. To David's surprise, there was a big window sawed out in one of the walls!
The next day he returned to the carpenter; it was a different man than the one who had been there the week before. David asked to speak to the other carpenter and the man said, "I am the only carpenter who works here. Maybe you went to a different store last week."
David said, "No, I was in this store and I bought my succah walls here and I didn't have enough money to have a window put in one of the walls, but to my surprise, when we put up our succah, there was a window in it! I want to thank the carpenter who did that for me, free of charge."
"I'm sorry," said the carpenter. "I am the only carpenter who works here. What day did you come last week? I don't remember you and I am very good at remembering faces.”
"It was two days before Rosh Hashana", said David. "Two days before Rosh Hashana", said the carpenter, "the store was not even open! We closed three days before Rosh Hashana to get ready for the holiday. My wife just gave birth and she needed my help at home. You must have made a mistake!"
David opened his wallet to find the receipt and the only thing that he found inside was a little piece of paper and on it was written, "David, I wish you and your family a Chag Samaach (Happy Holiday). It was your efforts and hard work that built your succah this year and you should always remember, that whatever happens in your life, your hard work and efforts are seen in Shamayim (heaven) and they are written down. This is a receipt for your deeds." David thanked the man and told him that, in fact he might have been mistaken and gone to another shop where they were cutting wood for the walls of succoth.
He returned home, thinking to himself that his Bubie was right when she had told him, when he pursued what was" real", whether it was hard work, friendships, learning, or being honest, he would receive help. Sometimes that help would come in the form of a friend, like Simcha, or in the form of family, like his Tata and Zada helping him to build the succah and his Mommy, Bubie and sisters helping to decorate the succah, and sometimes the help would come from a different place, from a "man" dressed as a carpenter, helping David to build something here on earth whose dimensions were made on high in the heavens.
Chag Succoth Samaach to everyone!