The following conversation occurred a few days ago as I drove my 4 yrs old daughters’ carpool home from school. We had just dropped off our first passenger and were in route to drop off the second one when my daughter said…
Uberdaughter: Abba, (name withheld) left something in the car. We have to give it to her, it’s a mitzvah.
Me: That’s right, Uberdaughter. It’s the mitzvah of Hashovas Avedah, giving something back to someone who lost something. We’ll have to write you a ‘mitzvah note’ for school.
2nd Child/Passenger (soon to be dropped off): I get a ‘mitzvah note’, too.
Me: O.K., you can tell your mom when I take you home.
Uberdaughter: Oh no!! I get the mitzvah note, because I saw that (name withheld) left something. The person who sees a mitzvah and yells about it is the one who did the mitzvah for real-life and gets the mitzvah. Hashem says so.
All right, while my daughter did use some ‘hashkafic literary license’, what she said holds some truth. It actually reminded me of a great story published in the book Gut Voch, by Avrohom Barash.
The story, from page 68, titled “Everything Counts” follows:
The sister of the Vilna Gaon would often collect tzedakah for various charitable causes together with a friend. At one point the two agreed that whichever one of them would pass away first would come to the other one in a dream and relate her experiences.
When one of them left this world, she kept her word and appeared to her friend. “Tell me,” she asked, “what is it like in Gan Eden?”
“I am not prepared to tell you everything,” she replied. “But one thing I can say: everything is calculated minutely. Do you remember that one day when we were collecting for an important cause and you saw a woman across the road whom we could approach? You raised your hand and pointed her out, and I crossed the road and spoke to her. You will receeive reward for lifting your finger to point her out, while I was rewarded for having taken the trouble to cross the road and go over to her.”
My daughter was on target.