Let me paint the picture.

Before my eldest son had his bar mitzvah, I was persuaded by a close friend to pop in on Friday night to Chabad of Savoy, in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the few years since, I have come to love the synagogue, the rabbi and the community. Rabbi Ash, who heads the community, never ceases toThey advised that scheduled medicine cannot be couriered across international borders recognize good deeds, encourage good deeds, and remind us of the importance of doing good before all else, understanding that all humanity is connected in ways we do not comprehend. He lives by this ethos. In the spirit of Chabad philosophy, he teaches that even the tiniest spark can be seen in the dark, and that the smallest act of kindness should never be underestimated.

We recently took a family trip and flew from Johannesburg, spending a few days in Cambodia and then flying via Bangkok to Koh Samui, Thailand. Upon arriving in Koh Samui in the early afternoon, my wife asked me where my daughter’s medicines were.

I reminded her that she gave our daughter her pills that morning at breakfast while at the hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, before flying to Koh Samui. Words cannot describe the look on her face when the realization dawned on her that she had left them in the hotel in Phnom Penh. We called the hotel, and the medication was found in the hotel restaurant.

What next?

We tried our medical aid concierge, and it took them an hour to get their travel desk to call, and then a further half-hour to advise that they could not help, except refer us to a Thai hospital. I explained that these medications are not available in Thailand. When I asked if they could courier a new batch, they advised that scheduled medicine cannot be couriered across international borders.

I called the travel agent we used in Phnom Penh, and he volunteered to collect the medicine from the hotel and courier it to my Thailand hotel. I decided to let him try, despite having been advised otherwise. An hour later he called saying that DHL would not accept the medication.

What now?

I offered the travel agent an all-expenses-paid return flight from Phnom Penh to Koh Samui with a night’s accommodation. The agent said to give him an hour to think it through. Two hours later, after many text messages, I guessed he would not take the bait.

What now? I was ready to tell my wife that one of us was going to return to Cambodia to retrieve the medication.

And then I stopped.

I googled “Chabad Cambodia.”

There is was. Where there's Coca Cola, there's Chabad. I dialed the number. The voice on the other end said, “This is Rabbi Butman from Phnom Penh. How can I help?” A little voice in me said, “Funny you should ask,” and I told Rabbi Butman my story.

I explained how essential the medication was, that DHL would not accept the medication, that the medication was not obtainable in Thailand, that the Cambodian travel agent would never take up my offer, and that I was about to make a return trip to Cambodia.

Rabbi Butman asked me for the details of the travelSecurity would not let him in agent and said that he was going to go collect the medicine from the agent and go to the airport in Phnom Penh. He said he had an idea. I gave him the agent’s contact details, and about half an hour later the agent texted me and said that he had now given the medicine to my “friend.” An hour later Rabbi Butman called and said he was trying to get security at the Phnom Penh airport to allow him into the international departure section to see if he could find someone who might be coming to Koh Samui. Sadly, half an hour later he texted me to say that that security would not let him in. (Needless to say, had I been on a flight from Cambodia to Thailand, I would never in a million years accept a package from a person masquerading as a rabbi.)

What happened next blew me away. He sent me a text saying that he had discussed the issue with a friend of his, Rabbi Mendy Goldschmidt from Chabad Koh Samui. The two of them had worked out that all Rabbi Butman needed to do was fly to Bangkok, go to the Thai Airways parcel desk and then send it to the Chabad center in Koh Samui. Rabbi Butman texted me and asked if I could get to Chabad Samui by 8 a.m. the next day. Rabbi Goldschmidt had confirmed that he would have collected the medication from the airport by then, and would have it on his person.

The next morning I receive a text from Rabbi Goldschmidt that the medicine had arrived. I texted Rabbi Butman to tell him and thank him, and he casually mentioned that he had managed to get a return flight from Bangkok only the following morning. I was speechless with gratitude. And to think he did all this not knowing if he would ever be compensated for the cost of his airfare.

I arrived at Chabad Koh Samui and introduced myself. Rabbi Goldschmidt asked if I would stay and help complete the minyan (quorum) for morning services so that a mourner could say kaddish. “Sure” I answered. My wife has long become used to Chabad custom and was aware that a few l'chaims and some TorahI was speechless with gratitude thoughts can extend a synagogue service. So when I arrived back at our hotel almost two hours later she was not convinced that I was there out of conviction and necessity. My saving grace was that I had the medicine.

I emailed Rabbi Butman and asked for his bank details to repay him. The rest requires no imagination.

It looks like Rabbi Butman and I will be keeping in touch. Cambodia has a rough history. In the late ’70s, millions of people were murdered—not unlike what the Jewish people experienced during the Holocaust. I am hoping he has contact with some of these survivors and can bring them with him to visit South Africa so that we can learn of man’s capacity for evil and how we need to work to pursue goodness.

I am writing this to acknowledge the kindness of the Chabad rabbis I met on my travels. I am hoping that those who read this will understand the potential we have to make a difference, and see that small deeds of goodness are so easy, and that we can learn from each other to do the mitzvahs.