Yaakov - the true story of genuine loving kindness

    August 1998          
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A Kindness Not Forgotten

By an Unemployed Author

By way of introduction, I must mention that I had been a gainfully employed person living in Israel for quite some time. The company that I worked for went down and under, quickly and suddenly. I found myself at an advanced age circling middle fifties with a large family to support and now no income. My vocation was a specialty, outside of my previous employer, no one now was interested in me. My wife had just gotten over a difficult seven year battle against a terrible illness that no one should know from. She had no experience in working in the Israeli job market and basically lacked strength to even try. We had some money saved up, but it certainly wasn't much. Who in Israel working for a salary makes much money?

Not far from our apartment was the local fruit and vegetable store. Yaakov, a simple Sfardic man with a plump stomach and sad, but tender eyes ran his little business. We shopped by Yaakov regularly because going to the town market was not easy and Yaakov's prices were reasonable. A quiet fellow with a knitted kippa and a clean shaven chubby face, I always had the opinion that he was just a simple fellow.

When the job fell and economics became difficult, we had to make budgetary cuts in our household expenses. Our family had always enjoyed the delicious seasonal summer fruits plus we were big fresh salad eaters. This together with the large size of our family, we realized quickly that a lot of money was going out in the direction of Yaakov. My wife and I knew that a large savings could be made by cutting down to the basics. We reasoned that summer fruits were really a luxury, not getting a peach or nectarine was not endangering anyone's health. We also decided to cut back on the salads and to try to get a lower quality of vegetables. Yaakov only sold high quality fruits and vegetables, so I, being not gainfully employed, was selected for shopping in the local town market.

The first week, we put up with our fate. The prices were less expensive and the savings was notable, but the quality was not of our family's liking. Courageously, the children put up with the limitations on the summer fruit and the less than scrumptious salads, but we were determined to maintain ourselves.

After three weeks of not shopping a Yaakov's, I was surprised that when I attempted to go out of the front door, low and behold, a large box of fruits and vegetables were waiting at the door. The box was laden with the best looking fruits and vegetables, just like those that we were accustomed to order from Yaakov.

I called my wife to the door. "Look at this! Did you place an order with Yaakov?" I said puzzled.

"No, not me. Perhaps, the delivery boy made a mistake a sent it to us by mistake. I'll call Yaakov now and have them come and get it," my wife said walking to the phone.

I continued on my way confident that my wife would have the produce order sent back. Upon my return to our home that evening, I was surprised to see our fruit bowl boasting a beautiful array of delicious fruits. "What's all this?" I asked my spouse.

"You won't believe!" started my wife, with an excited face.

"OK," I knew that she was waiting for me to ask, "what won't I believe?"

"Well, I called up Yaakov and he said that it wasn't a mistake. The fruits and vegetables were meant for us. He said that he hadn't seen us in his store for a long time and he figured that we must be experiencing some hardship, so he decided to send it to us. Can you believe that!"

"Yes, that's so nice. But why didn't you tell him to take it back. I thought that we agreed that we were going to try cutting corners and not spend so much money."

"I told Yaakov that you lost your job and that we were trying to save money. He said he understands and thought that we were going through a difficult period. He said that this is a present for us and he wishes you well on your job hunting. He said not to worry, he is certain that you will eventually find a job."

"Wow, that is so nice of him." I said eyeing the beautiful fruits.

Next week, same thing. I opened the door and what did I see, another box of fruits and vegetables. "Come quick!" I called my wife, "look what Yaakov sent. "Another beautiful box of produce."

And so it went on also for the third week. "Listen, this is too much. Yaakov is really something special, but I don't want to be a recipient of charity. Please call Yaakov and tell him that we insist on paying for it."

My wife quickly got on the phone and offered to pay Yaakov. Sorry, Yaakov was not interested in taking money. "When your husband gets another job, then you can come back and order from me. But in the meantime this is a present from me."

We were adamant. "Yaakov, please don't do this. We are just going through a difficult period. We will get over it."

Yaakov was also adamant. He refused to budge. Finally we arrived at an agreement. We would resume shopping by him and he would only charge us half price until I find a job.

It's been a year now that I am unemployed. I've have several short part-time jobs, but nothing to really feel comfortable with. Yaakov has been outstanding. He has been charging us half price and telling us not to worry, if we can't pay now, we can pay later.

It's not easy to be out of work for such a long period with no real prospect for a job. But with people like Yaakov, life certainly looks a lot less ominous. Some times it takes a bit of life'


from the August 1998 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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