The Trough in Central Park by Prof Gerald August

May 24th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

An Act of Chesed

As you enter Central Park from Sixth Avenue, there is a water trough made of stone. It is three feet long by one foot wide by 14 inches high, and has a pipe that supplies water for the horses that pull the carriages. The trough was donated by Mrs. Henry C. Russell

The other day I was sitting on a bench about 20 feet from the trough. Over the course of an hour, at least 10 horses stopped to get a drink. I multiplied the total daily drinks by 365, a yearly total of 21,600. Think about it. Over 21,000 acts of kindness from one gift.

But here is the punchline. This trough was donated in… 1908. Over the last 102 years, Mrs. Russell’s gift resulted in two million, three hundred three thousand acts of kindness.

Even one kind act makes the world a better place. Mrs. Russell teaches us to also think about the bigger picture. What can we do with small funds to make an ongoing and ultimately huge impact? Look around you. What are you using on a continuing basis that someone provided for you? Is it the 100 year old seder plate your grandmother bought when she was a young bride? Is it the shawl your mother knitted that your wife now uses when she is cold ? Is it the water fountain in the community center you attend?

We can do numerous acts of kindness long after the initial act.

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1 Comment

  • moshe stepansky

    There is a seminal Halachic discussion how one should view a physical act:
    One view understands it as a “big bang” that occurred once and everything develops from that. The other view is this physical act with continued ramifications really reflects a myriad series of repetitive actions that just advance infinitesimally along the timeline.

    The Ohr Sameakh and the Rogotchover both resided in Dvinsk and they took sides in this dispute. One day they meet in the street.The Rogotchover wishes the Ohr Sameakh “Mazal Tov!!!”. “Thanks for the blessings, but what for?”.
    “You got married!”; “What do you mean?I got married over 20 years ago!!!!”
    “Ah, but according to you, your action from over 20 years ago continues going forward as a succession of continual renewable actions -so your being married is as if you renewed your wedding yesterday and today!!!!”

    “Avinu Malceinu,Cotveinu b’Sefer Zochuyot”-inscribe us in The Book of Merits==> R’Shlomo explained The Book of Merits as recording our actions with all their outgrowth of ramifications and positive ripples.
    When we perform an act of merit, we forge the existence of the gift that keeps on giving.


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