The Secret

She was so little. Only four. But she also had needs like her older siblings. Her Tatty (Daddy) was sick and her Mommy was often crying. Mommy never cried when she or her siblings had a virus or a sore throat. She didn’t understand.  She was confused…and scared.

Rav Chananya Chollak

Rav Chananya Chollak, Founder of Ezer Mizion, was visiting the family. His compassion and sensitivity enabled him to know just what to say to give them strength.  As the visit came to an end, he gave out cards to the mother and older children. “Here’s my phone number. Please call me whenever you need to talk.” He did this frequently. The man who headed an empire of 30,000 volunteers and an army of professionals seemed to have time for the hundreds, no thousands, of individuals who needed his caring warmth to ease their pain. And they called, many of them, at all times of day.

As he made his way toward the door, the four year old approached him. “Can I tell you a secret?” Stooping to bring his ear to four-ear-old level as only the great can do, Rav Chollak listened to her ‘secret’.

“I also want a card.”

“Of course,” he answered.  “Call me anytime you want.”

“You’re a big Tatty. You probably stay up late. Sometimes I get so scared and I can’t fall asleep. Can I call you late? “

“Anytime you want.”

One night his phone rang at 11:45 PM.

“It’s me. Ruti. Remember you gave me your card?”

“Of course, I remember, Ruti. What can I do for you?”

“I want to say tehillim (Psalms) but I don’t know which one to say.”

“Chapter 20 would be a good one.”

And so, as the clock made its way toward midnight, the voices of a tiny child and a very great man mingled together towards the heavens in prayer. The call ended, the little girl now peacefully asleep.

Unlike the average person, Rav Chollak has no timefor himself when he is off. It is not unusual for someone to enter his shul(synagogue) during davening (praying) with a message that he is urgently needed to speak to a family whose mother has suddenly passed away in an MVA. His sleep may be interrupted   several times over the night by people who are frightened. A meal eaten at his desk may stretch for hours as he goes from crisis to crisis, imparting compassion and strength as only he can.  May he be given the strength from heaven to continue his vital work.

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