As mentioned in the post, I never saw Malka multi-tasking or flitting around. She did one thing at a time and wasn’t quick about it either. Yet she got everything done.
In fact, I think her slow quiet way was part of her success.
Yes, we need the speedy multitaskers. But we need ALL types of baalei chessed.
There is more than one way to be a baal chessed!
Appreciating Whatever You Have to Give
I never saw her tending to young children. She never mentioned caring for other people’s babies or toddlers even as a young mother. Maybe she did so here and there in her younger years, but it wasn’t her "thing." She was more into teenagers and adults.
And that’s perfectly fine.
While sometimes we find ourselves as the only volunteer available for a chessed that hits our weak points, it’s otherwise perfectly fine to play our strengths in the chessed arena.
In fact, an attraction to one type of chessed or another is likely Hashem’s way of telling you where he wants you to go and what He wants you to do.
Unfortunately in our times, egalitarianism is huge and affects everything.
In some communities, poor families expect the same weddings as wealthy families, something unheard of in former generations. In some families, every male is expected to sit and learn full-time regardless of his other talents, his level of skill, and even if he needs medication to get through a day in kollel.
Likewise, many women feel they must excel at bikur cholim, hachnasat orchim, babysitting, crisis counseling, listening, cooking meals for the sick and post-partum, and so on.
A chassidic friend of mine who grew up in America's Fifties explained that there were women who were good with cooking, those good with baking, those good with small children, and those good with teenagers, and so on.
And each one contributed according to her strengthens, which provided the community according to its needs.
Unfortunately, a friend who excels at babysitting (including middle-of-the-night babysitting for couples who need to rush to the hospital to bring even more children into the world) expressed a lot of self-loathing for saying no when called upon to make part of a meal for a yoledet.
Yet she has absolutely nothing to feel bad about.
Her availability for babysitting is actually more in demand & harder to come by than a cholent or a kugel or even a salad (which can always be bought if necessary or can be found by someone else).
Furthermore, I think most of us – either as guests or ill people – have faced hosts or well-meaning visitors who really shouldn’t have been hosting guests or visiting the sick. Their heart wasn’t in it and they cultivated an unpleasant experience.
Having said that, there are times when someone needs a place to stay or an ill person needs tending and there is no one else to do it but you, whether you are up to it or not.
So in those cases, you give it your best shot and also merit siyata d’Shmaya.
But in general, you should do the chessed you can do and not try to do something you despise or don’t understand. (In other words, if you’re feeling resentful or martyr-like, it’s probably a good idea to say no unless there is no other choice.)
Like with most things in life, you should play your strengths when and if at all possible.
Just like Malka found herself tending to the unseen vagrants in society and my friend found herself enabling parents to go to the hospital together in the middle of the night, secure in the knowledge that their children were in good hands, you might find yourself fulfilling a need that almost no one else can.
So play your strengths and don't get down on yourself about your weaknesses.