Readers’ Matzav: Chasunah Shtick Gemach


chupahDear Matzav Editor,

We live in a wonderful community where people are always looking to help out others. If you look through the gemach list, you can find a gemach for virtually anything.

I would like to mention something regarding this.  

Several years ago, I opened a chasunah shtick gemach. This gemach was opened simply to help others. My gemach charges very little money, which is used to cover the repairs and to invest in new shtick. A portion of the money goes to Hachnosas Kallah.

Some people are wonderful. They pick-up the stuff and return them in perfect condition. Other people, on the other hand, just complain about whatever they possibly can.

Here is what I want to say: If you don’t like what I have to offer, don’t take it! I don’t make money off this gemach. I only want to help.  

There are some people who don’t return the items until after several phone calls, which delays the next person’s pick-up. One person has never returned the shtick they borrowed altogether. Due to some error, I do not have their phone number. I was hoping that by the time Pesach rolled around, it would be returned – but that never happened.  

Recently, a similar incident happened. A girl called at the last minute saying that she desperately needs some shtick. Having a very good heart, I gave her brand new arches. Since it was all given in haste, her number was misplaced, and that was the end of it. I never heard from her again!

I don’t think that my gemach is the only one that is like this. Whoever has a gemach only wants to help people, and unfortunately, there are some people who cause so much agmas nefesh for those trying to help others.

Many people feel that since you are already doing them this favor, you have to give them all you’ve got.

I know of a very nice lady who helps out the “Vaad Hachnosas Orchim“.  She told me that there are some people who expect her to sit with them on the phone for long periods of time. She sometimes even gets blamed if they can’t get the apartment they need. They call at the last minute and expect an apartment to be waiting for them. She tells them that when they find something, they should call her back and let her know so that she could update her information and know not to give the apartment to someone else. From hundreds of callers, only several have ever called her back!

Where is the hakoras hatov? Where is good old mentchlichkeit?

Name Withheld


  1. I suggest you take a $100 deposit from borrowers, refundable upon their return of the items.

    I guarantee the items will come back

  2. If one wants to run a “Gemach” (if you charge -its NOT a gemach; its a blowout discount store or rental place – but we’ll leave that for another time) you must NOT have such a good and sensative heart. In order to accomplish your GREAT deed you have to know that people are people and some are rude and outright takers. However, you will never get a good thing done by taking these people’s action to heart. You know that 90 – 95% of the people you deal with are nice and honest. So sit down a be proud of the great chesed and simcaha you generate and just forget and/or block out those other ‘narishe’ people. You’ll feel alot better.

  3. While it is common to purchase Gmach items with maaser funds I have had people borrow books purchased with non-maaser funds and not return them.

    However, my wife pointed out that if I did not write down and keep track of who borrowed which book I was at least partially to blame for not getting my books back.

  4. Kul Hakavod Licha! Thank you so much far all the chessed that you have done in the past may Hashem grant you the ability to continue in health and happiness.

  5. You should definitly take a cash deposit, at least a $50 one, all the shtik gemachs i have used do so and it is an excellent way to ensure you get everything back, and in good condition. Because if it gets ruined, you just keep the deposit!

  6. First of all thank you for your great chesed that you do.
    1. A Gemach doesn’t mean that you should be a korban. Meaning if it gets you so frustratred, that you have to write a sob story, it loses its chashivus and importance.
    2. Never ever lend something without a deposit. Ganavim do not necessarily have horns or big fat tatoos.
    3. Have a form which has a list of your stuff on one side and agreement of some sort on the other side. The form should have the address,phone numbers, date borrowed, when returning, when is the event, and what happens if something is lost or damaged, and also whatever else you want to include(you could have a copy for the person if he wants).
    4. Keep a binder or looseleaf where you put all the papers and info about the gemach.
    5. NEVER lend with out the form even if the choson or kallah come begging you and also they are your own neighbors.
    6. Put a sticker on all your stuff with phone number and the name.
    hopefully these small tips will help you to do the mitzvas simchas chosson and kallah to its fullest with out any agravation.
    mazal tov

  7. 7. Since you charge write on the form that the proceeds go to buying new shticks, repairs, and hachnosat kallah.

  8. people are so used to taking things from a gemach that they come to abuse it
    recently i made a wedding bh and took benchers in a beutifal cas for the sheva brachos
    the kind person asked me for a deposit which i willingly gave when i returned the items she was going to give me the check back i told her keep it
    she was shocked

    i can undersatnd even if its a gemach how can a person not give something
    i mean you benefitted from someone

  9. In the city where I live, my rav insists that people who have gemachim charge a large deposit before lending out, and when it’s returned in good shape, the gemach rips up the check.
    I borrowed from a jewelry gemach for my daughter’s wedding and only after I picked out the jewelry did the lady profusely apologize to me that my rav insisted she charge (I think it was 50% of the value of the jewelry). I had to give her (If I remember correctly)a $400 deposit, which she naturally ripped up after the wedding, but I was ‘tzitering’ until I returned it lest we lose one of the pieces.
    It might have been frustrating on my part as the borrower but I FULLY agree with my rav and because of his policy with all the gemachim I used for the wedding, people will continue to lend, knowing there is a deposit and they won’t lose out.
    I think it’s a great policy for anyone with a gemach- and have a rav back you up so you can ‘blame’ it on the rav’s psak and not feel guilty about it.

  10. I too had a gmach of challah covers and bechers & trays- I didnt ask for a deposit and learned shortly after that i should have because people returned the bechers with the grape juice and wine caked on and the challah covers were fikthy with grease stains and chulent still stuck on it -I STOPPED LENDING THEM OUT

  11. Anyone involved in Tzarchei Tzibor finds out pretty quickly what people are all about. A Baal Chesed is someone who is the master of his chesed; it’s done with a cheshbon. Otherwise, he becomes a shmatta and starts to resent his chesed.