A Debt Repaid – The hand of Hashem is Revealed
“Cause Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool”
Mother on Motzei Shabbos April 28, 2018 at her 94th birthday with her three “favorite” grandsons, Eli Morgenstern, Mattityahu Schwartz, and Eliyahu Sholem Glenner.
2010 picture of Mother (86 years old) with Eliana Tovah Bernstein, now from Nahariya, Israel.
On Monday night and Tuesday is my mother’s fourth Yahrzeit. Jean Morgenstern, Shayna Bas Sholem and Chana Feigl Sklar. I offer the below story in a merit and memory of my mother. My mother was great.
This past Friday, January 5, 2023 I received a call from George. Years ago I lent him over $30,000. He had a business which initially did well but over time he could not meet payroll. Sometimes he asked me to approve his overdrafts which I did and when he couldn’t cover, I would cover his account out of my pocket from my home equity credit line. Other times I would put money into his account without being asked.
When he was struggling, I tried to get him business from my customers. It was a Tuesday afternoon, it may have been a fast day, I was in my car and had a splitting headache. I was driving on Peterson Avenue, right past the Shul that Yosef Davis had in the ground floor of his building. The Rov was Rabbi Bechhoffer. or Rabbi Henoch Plotnick. I just wanted to go home, daven, and go to bed. I forced myself to stop and go to daven. As I was walking down the three steps that led into the Shul, I thought about a customer who possibly would purchase product. Right after davening I called Eddie and Eddie told me that George should call him and he will use his services. The next day George went to Eddie’s place and Eddie’s bought $1,600 worth of time. He cut a check and paid George on the spot. George did not have to bill him and wait for his money. Because of this George met payroll and survived another week. That Shabbos as George walked into his house, he was a hero. He felt good about himself. Who knows what that Shabbos meant for him and his family, who knows what bad was prevented. Eddie by paying immediately did a great action. If he had said, bill me and I will pay in 30 days, it would have been a huge Chesed. By paying immediately this one business transaction out of millions of transactions that day went before the Kisa Hakovid.
George finally closed his business. He felt terrible and told me that I should find solace in the fact that five people became Orthodox from his business. This was solace for me. I thought to myself, did I do the guy any favors? Had I not covered his overdrafts, his business would have folded three months earlier. It was clear that he was not going to make it, but now he racked up my debt, and other debt. Was I a sucker, an easy mark, a fool with money I did not have? This was not the only time this happened when I covered overdrafts and paid out of my pocket. I would like to believe that while I suffered internally and felt foolish; ultimately, Hashem would reward me.
He did tell me that he will pay everyone back. At that time he had no money. His wife worked and made maybe $40,000. He had a side hustle which brought in a few dollars. He needed a real job with a growing family. He eventually got a job managing a local office for an east coast successful businessman. George started paying me back at about $500 monthly, paying the debt down to $23,400. However, he stopped paying years ago. I wondered and assumed that with his growing family he just did not have left over money to repay me. We did speak to one another over the years and to his credit he did try to refer business to me. The last deal he referred to me before I retired in 2020 was one company that I was trying to get as a customer and was excited. However, the bank was turning down almost every deal coming from our Healthcare department, so after expressing my excitement on the deal, I had to turn it down. To my bosses credit, she called George to turn down the loan. She supported the loan.
Over the years when I met him and never asked for the money. I knew that he was not able to pay me back. A few years ago I found out that he lived in a very nice house and wondered if he forgot about the money. Rabbi Zev Cohen told me that he recently gave a Shiur on a lender who knows the borrower is not in a position to pay back, is the lender forbidden to ask for the loan to be repaid. I do not recall how Rabbi Cohen paskened but B’Siattah Dismaya, I did not ask him for the money back. Not that I am very Frum but because it is not in my nature.
Today he called me and said he is repaying the $23,400. Wow. I told him that now that I am living off my retirement money, I would have to take out $30,000 to get $23,400 net of taxes. He legally did not have to pay me back as I put the money into his corporate account. But he did pay me back and at the right time as I am about to withdraw money from my retirement account.
On Shabbos Parshas Shmos, January 14, 2023, Rabbi Shmuel Lesher, assistant Rabbi of the BAYT in Thornhill, Ontario spoke at the Hashkama minyan on the topic of why did Moshe refuse Hashem three times. The answer he gave is because Moshe owed gratitude to Yisro, Hakoras Hatov and did not feel he could leave Yisro. At the conclusion of his speech, Rabbi Lesher mentioned Mishna 2:9 in Perkei Avos and discussed the following saying of Reb Shimon.
Rabbi Shimon said, one who borrows and does not repay for he that borrows from man is as one who borrows from God, blessed be He, as it is said, “the wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous deal graciously and give” (Psalms 37:21).
Reb Shimon says that what defines an evil person as someone who does not repay his loans. George was never someone who does not repay his loans. I never told him it was a loan. He told me at the time and that he will repay me and all debts. It is great that George has fulfilled that words of Reb Shimon, the holy Tanna. In the next world George will go to Reb Shimon. They will dance and Reb Shimon will kiss him and then they will learn together this Maamer. I can only hope that I will be Zocah.
Boruch Hashem that I had a mother whom we loved. She overcame obstacles and gave support.