In recent days, Rabbi Natan Chaifetz of Lev L’Achim observed the yahrtzeit of his mother, Rebbetzin Sarah Dina Chaifetz a”h. Rebbetzin Chaifetz spent many years teaching in a Bais Yaakov in Tzefas, where she was known as an extraordinary tzadeikes whose deeds were generally cloaked in layers of concealment. Her home in the heart of Tzefas was open to everyone in need and was a wellspring of spiritual and material succor. In the school where she taught, she was also known as the address to turn for anyone in distress. She had a profound understanding of her students’ psyches, which enabled her to help them resolve countless difficult issues.
One day, Morah Sarah paid a visit to the home of one of her students. She spoke with the girl’s mother, asked a number of questions, and announced at the end of the visit that she herself would thenceforth pay for the family to have a cleaning lady every Thursday to scrub the entire house, polish the silver, and wash the floor in honor of Shabbos. The cleaning lady’s wages would come from the meager salary she received for her teaching work. The kindly teacher did not explain the motivation for her munificence.
“Interesting,” the grateful mother said. “The truth is that until now, cleaning for Shabbos has been the responsibility of my daughter, who attends your school.” She took a deep breath and then added sadly, “I have felt for a long time that it was too much of a burden for her. But what could I do about it? I have no choice. I am ill and I can’t clean the house myself.”
A few days later, the Chaifetz family learned about their mother’s actions. “What led you to visit that family’s home?” they asked her. “Did you know about the situation? Did you have some sort of ruach hakodesh? How did you know that all the household work was being performed by an eighth-grade girl?”
The rebbetzin replied sagely, “It was very simple. I noticed that something about the girl’s posture indicated that she was sad, and I asked her teacher and found out that she hasn’t been successful in her studies over the past few months. So I called her into my office and asked her to draw me a picture. That is all.”
“But how did you know? What did she draw?”
“She drew a giant sponja stick,” the rebbetzin replied.
A simple deduction!
This story first appeared in Yated Ne’eman.