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The Jewish Report Editorial

Generous angels large and small

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I haven’t been out much lately because of my fear of this dreaded coronavirus that is at war with us in Gauteng. However, when I did venture out briefly this week, I saw a middle-aged woman who clearly lived on a rudimentary salary giving a beggar R10. The beggar was so shocked, he literally nearly fell over. Once she had done her deed, she walked on with what I perceived as a sense of deep pride.

Because we were all wearing masks, I couldn’t make out their expressions, nor was I about to stop and have a conversation. But it certainly made me think about there being a joy in giving. It also had me pondering that no matter how we may be battling, there are people having a tougher time than we are.

Also, kindness and charity never go amiss, even if it is R10 or less. When you give somebody something they need but don’t have, it’s a huge mitzvah. It’s even more of a mitzvah to do good without publicising it. However, if you do publicise it, I don’t believe it takes away from what you have done by helping someone.

On our front page today, we have a story I found inspiring. Here, we have a woman who was married to the richest man on earth, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. In her own right since their divorce, she’s probably the third wealthiest woman in the world. However, unlike her ex-husband who hasn’t been taken by the philanthropy bug, MacKenzie Scott has been giving the most needy some incredible handouts in order to give them a hand up.

It just so happens that Afrika Tikkun was one of those organisations selected as a conduit to pass this help around.

I love the fact that she carefully selects organisations that she respects and that work in a way she approves of. She sends people out to do the research before she makes up her mind which organisation to choose. She then hands over the money, and trusts the organisers to decide what to do with it.

My sense, from the minimal research I have done on this woman, is that she’s smart, careful, generous, and kind. These qualities are precious in anyone, but in a person who has a lot of money, it’s a godsend for millions in need.

However, as a business leader or president, these qualities are invaluable. Show me such a leader, and I will show you someone who people will support and who will have a natural following.

Recently, I spoke to a Cape Town-based business leader who spoke of his staff as he would his family – with love and care. It was off the record, so it wasn’t as if he was trying to pull the wool over my eyes, but what was clear was that his staff would follow him to the ends of the earth. No wonder, because he leads with the heart.

As we work our way through this dreaded pandemic and experience the eye of the storm, we look around for people who care and will do what they can to help.

In this case, it’s about those with the money who want to help, but it’s also those who simply care and want to do what they can to make things better.

I can think of a number of doctors who have literally given up all their personal time to fight for their patients’ lives. Then there are those who volunteer for organisations like Hatzolah, and are dealing with terrified, sick, and often lonely people who need these volunteers to help them believe that there will be a tomorrow.

Those volunteers who man the phones can leave someone feeling devastated and fearful or hopeful and in good hands. Many don’t have a lot of training, but I haven’t heard of one who has been other than exemplary.

The same goes for the paramedics and nurses. How do you thank someone who has given you a new lease on life, someone who has made sure you are going to survive or, at least, has given you a fighting chance?

Right now, Hatzolah, the Chev, doctors, nurses, physios, and all healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 are working themselves to the bone and need help themselves. They also need time out for a bit of rest and rejuvenation. And we haven’t yet reached the peak of the third wave in Gauteng. So, who knows when they will have some respite.

I spoke to an angel of a doctor the other day who was clearly exhausted and quite down. She allowed herself to be real for me, as I wasn’t a patient but a friend. As her phone rang and it was a patient, an energy and professionalism came over her. She was positive, upbeat, and very kind. I could tell it wasn’t easy, but that’s the commitment we are seeing all around us.

We are having a terrible time with COVID-19, and the only way we’ll be able to repay, thank, or help these kind, smart, and generous angels is by making sure that we take care of ourselves and our families.

Stay home as far as possible! Wear a mask and sanitise. I know it isn’t easy, but it’s that simple. Spare a thought for those who might have to save your life, and give them your commitment to make sure that you don’t have to meet under coronavirus-infested conditions.

Shabbat Shalom!

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