Have you heard the one about the man who wanted to win the lottery? Every week he went to synagogue to pray. “God,” he said, “I know I haven’t been perfect but I really need to win the lottery! Please help me out.” A week went by and he hadn’t won the lottery so he returned to synagogue. “Come on God, please let me win the lottery.” Another week passed, still he didn’t win the lottery. “You’re really disappointing me God. I’ve prayed and prayed. Just let me win already.” Feeling hopeful, the man walked outside. The clouds parted and the booming voice of God came to him from above: “You’ve gotta help me, Moishe! Buy a *&%$#@*^ ticket!”
I thought of this joke recently when I read a story by Grace Bonney, who runs Design*Sponge, one of my favorite blogs. She and her wife, the chef and cookbook author Julia Turshen relocated from New York City to a rural community in the Hudson Valley where they’ve made themselves a lovely home. I’ve followed Design*Sponge for almost as long as it’s been in existence and have marveled at how, over the years, Bonney has grown as a writer and editor and businesswoman and by how she’s made it part of her mission to be inclusive in her coverage of the people working in the design world.
My estimation of Bonney went up a couple of notches when I read her recent post about her volunteer work. Shortly after she moved upstate, she became involved in the local food pantry, a food delivery service, and a crisis intervention organization. It didn’t take long for her to learn how desperately young children and their families need healthy food. “Most of the food that food pantries receive is past or just-about-past due, and it’s illegal for most charities to give out expired baby and toddler food,” writes Bonney.
Instead of shrugging and carrying on, Bonney reached out to Agatha Achindu, founder of Yummy Spoonfuls Organic Baby Food, and asked for a donation. Achindu more than obliged; she donated enough baby food to supply Bonney’s home county for at least three months.
In other words, Bonney wasn’t afraid to ask.
In my own experience, I’ve learned that asking for help is oftentimes a mitzvah, a good deed for both the asker and the giver because by asking, you’re giving someone the opportunity to be of use. Of course one must be prepared to be turned down, for any number of reasons. At the same time, it’s likely that those who ask the right question of the right person will get the answer they want. And unlike the man in the joke, if you can show that you’ve done your part, you might be rewarded with more than you’ve imagined possible.