The seventh plague wreaked particular havoc on the fields of Egypt. The hail, a heavenly amalgamation of ice and fire, destroyed anything and everything that was left outdoors. This included crops, vegetation, and animals. However, the Torah makes specific mention of what was not destroyed. The wheat and the spelt that was left outside were not destroyed, since they are late in sprouting. Rashi cites the Tanchuma, which explains that it was a “pele” – a wonder – that these types were not destroyed. Why did the wheat and spelt deserve such a miracle? Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi shlita explains that there was a lesson here for Pharaoh to realize: He should be flexible and yielding instead of brazen and impertinent – like the wheat and spelt whose flexibility in the fields allowed them to remain upright even as the devastating hail fell. The “pele” is a reference to the fact that a miracle was performed for Pharaoh to see, and he still didn’t want to recognize it.

Doing chesed for others takes a flexibility, an urge to give away of oneself for the benefit of another person. The famous baal chesed, Reb Beinish Mandel z”l, was renowned for his Hatzalah work, his kindness, his ability to put others at ease. He didn’t just do chesed; his motto in life was “Hatznei’a Leches Im Elokecha” and he was always modest and discreet in his actions. Case in point: An Israeli rabbi once came to New York to seek treatment for cancer. He came alone and with little money. He knew almost no one and barely spoke a word of English. Somehow, he managed to find a basement apartment in Flatbush where he could stay for the months he was scheduled for treatment in New York.

Reb Beinish found out about this talmid chacham and asked him to move into his own home. Why should a man going through such a trying period remain alone? He begged and cajoled, but the rabbi absolutely would not hear of it and at the very least, he agreed to come eat dinner a few nights a week at the Mandel home. On other nights, Reb Beinish would go visit him in his small room in the basement, just to cheer him up and give him chizuk.

Reb Beinish’s son Yitzy recounts the following story in vivid detail, adding that from the time it happened until recently, he never spoke about it. Why? Because it was so natural and not in any way unusual for his father that he didn’t really think into it. It happened right after a large snowstorm had just hit the New York City area and Yitzy, who was then a teenager, was outside shoveling the snow off the sidewalks around the Mandel home in Flatbush. It took some time, and when he was finished, he walked into his house, tired and sweaty, and put the shovel away in the corner near the door.

Just at that moment, he saw his father putting on his coat. Reb Beinish quietly motioned for him to take the shovel again and follow him outside. Opening the front door, he called out to no one in particular, “I’m going out with Yitzy for a bit,” to which his wife acknowledged with a wave from the kitchen. Yitzy closed his coat again and followed his father.

Reb Beinish got into his car and told Yitzy to put the shovel in the back seat and hop in. They drove a few blocks and pulled up in front of the house where the rabbi from Israel was staying. The snow was piled high and no one had shoveled the walkway and steps leading around to the basement entrance where the rabbi was staying. As an Israeli who probably never saw snow, and a cancer patient who was weak from treatment, Reb Beinish was concerned about the man trying to navigate the snow on the days he went out to the hospital. He asked Yitzy to please shovel the side of the house, adding that, really, he would do it but he was weak himself from his own cancer treatment. He also asked him to hurry before anyone sees them. Yitzy was happy to do his father’s bidding and, in no time, he had shoveled the entire area clear of snow.

Satisfied, Reb Beinish and his son got back into his car and drove home. They walked up the front stairs and were about to enter the house when Reb Beinish looked at Yitzy and put his finger to his lips. “Ssshhhh...,” he intoned softly, and the two smiled knowingly. Then, he pushed open the door and announced in a booming voice, “We’re back!”

This story really made an incredible impression on Yitzy. His father was truly nosei b’ol chaveiro, not only in a figurative sense but in a physical sense, as well.

Rabbi Dovid Hoffman is the author of the popular “Torah Tavlin” book series, filled with stories, wit and hundreds of divrei Torah, including the brand new “Torah Tavlin Yamim Noraim” in stores everywhere. You’ll love this popular series. Also look for his book, “Heroes of Spirit,” containing one hundred fascinating stories on the Holocaust. They are fantastic gifts, available in all Judaica bookstores and online at To receive Rabbi Hoffman’s weekly “Torah Tavlin” sheet on the parsha, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.