More Than a Free-Loan Society

Question

Dear Rabbi, could you explain to me what a gemach is? I was reading something online and saw a reference to a gemach that helped people with a variety of things that they needed. Thanks a lot!

3 months

Answers

  1. In Jerusalem, and many other places, if your daughter suddenly becomes engaged and you don’t have a bottle of whisky to make the customary l’chaim with family and friends, don’t worry! Look in the phone book or a local Jewish directory and call the gemach! A gemach is a free-loan organization, and not just for money. You’ll be able to borrow a bottle of Johnny Walker black label (could even be gold but I don’t think they stretch to green or blue). Later on, just replace what you took. No charge. There are gemachs for virtually everything under the sun.

    Let’s say its Shabbat and the drugstores are closed and you need a certain over the counter medication. No problem. There are people with gemachs of medicines in their homes that rival a commercial drugstore. (If it is legal in one’s location, there are almost likely a medicine-gemach for prescription medications as well.) There are gemachs for clothes, chairs, cameras, tapes, tables, telephones, money, free advice hotlines, mezuzahs, tefillin, bridal outfits, wigs, cooking gas cylinders, baby strollers, cribs, lactation pumps, drills, saws and other tools, embroidered cushions to bring a Jewish baby to the arms of the Sandek for his bris milah. In fact, I have a friend who has a talent for dreaming up new gemachs for people.

    We are a kind people. It’s in our genes.

    Gemach is an acronym for Gemilut Chassadim, the bestowing of loving-kindness. In Judaism you are what you do. Kindness is not a spectator sport. Being kind means actually doing kindness.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team