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
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
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
"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
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