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page 1 story supplement PESACH 5768

Kos Yeshuos…. Dear Readers, A

Two Thousand Dollars

dod- Tel Av sh iv


Table of Contents

rak – Netivo iB t

pg. 3

A Child as a Gift

pg. 7


To hear this story firsthand: Please call ......................................011-972-50-412-4768

To hear this story firsthand: Please call .........................................011-972-3-676-6432 La k

o ew

The Diamondless Ring


pg. 10

To hear this story firsthand: Please call ......................................................609-847-1062

His Last Wish

pg. 15

Yerusha l

– im ay

New Y or k


To hear this story firsthand: Please call..........................................011-972-57-315-0345 ru

a shal yim

Veha’er Eineinu Besorasecha pg. 18 To hear this story firsthand: Please call .........................................011-972-57-311-4191 Be

Life and …

pg. 20

To hear this story firsthand: Please call ......................................011-972-50-411-2977

Written and edited by: C. Levinson Published by: Kupat Ha’ir

1-866-221-9352 page 2 story supplement PESACH 5768

m lgiu

Chodesh asher yeshuos bo… There’s no time like the meaningful holiday of Pesach, to reflect upon and give thanks for the miracles we merit in every generation and to relate stories of Hashem’s kindness. The brochure featuring stories of yeshuos that we sent you for Chanukah elicited many warm responses. You found the stories enjoyable and interesting. You were moved and amazed – there’s nothing more special than seeing the chessed Hashem does with us with such startling clarity. It’s as if a crack has been opened, a window to the magical world of hashgachah pratis. In a generation of hester panim such as ours, such stories serve as special consolation. Hashem’s love and compassion; His concern for each and every one of us –give us the strength we need to forge ahead. The stories in this brochure were all related by trustworthy people who experienced them firsthand. The waves of gratitude and praise continue rushing forward, enabling us all to see Hashem’s chessed with us at every point in our lives. Kupat Ha’ir is grateful to have the merit of presenting these stories to the public, stories that indicate in the strongest way possible how very beloved Kupat Ha’ir is in the eyes of Hashem and how willing He is to change the course of nature for its sake. May we merit to always be among the givers and may we continue to see yeshuos – only by simchos!

Chag Kosher Ve’sameach,

Kupat Ha’ir

Meir was very quiet. His sudden reticence was very conspicuous against the lively backdrop of the impromptu festivities in the lunchroom. Shloimy Bar was dancing in the middle of the circle, his face glowing as his suit swung to the rhythm of the lusty singing. His friends were overjoyed for him; they were well aware of the problem he constantly struggled with and they knew how difficult it had been for him to find a shidduch. Tonight he had gotten engaged and the lunchroom was filled with ecstatic bachurim who had come to rejoice with him. “How come you’re so quiet all of a sudden?” asked Shuki Newhaus, jabbing his elbow into Meir’s side. “Whatsamatter, you wanna be the guy in the middle?” A shadow passed over Meir’s face. For a moment, the spark in them seemed to go out but then Meir smiled his familiar smile again. He couldn’t afford to let others see how jealous he was. But he couldn’t bring himself to dance with joyous abandon, either. Another shidduch, so close to the finish line, had hit a dead end that evening. “I’m afraid I’m going to be the last bachur left,” Meir said to his good friend Eisik a few hours later. The solitude of the wee hours of the night made it easier to unburden his heart. He had been unable to fall asleep and when Eisik had come upstairs from the study hall at 2:00 a.m., the way he did every night, he found Meir sitting up in bed. He prepared for bed, not wasting a minute, but in the meantime he could provide a listening ear and a warm and caring heart for a friend who needed both so badly. “You should’ve been the first to get engaged, Meir. There aren’t many bachurim as sought


Two Thousand Dollars

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after as you.” Eisik knew about the shidduch that had ground to a halt a moment before its completion. “Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve,” Meir said dejectedly. “I thought so, too. But you see what’s been happening. Such things leak out, you know? Who’s going to want to get engaged to a bachur others have rejected?” “No one rejected you,” Eisik protested, looking directly at Meir. His sincerity made Meir’s eyes fill with tears. “One shidduch was blown for financial reasons, another because you fortunately learned about a medical problem at the last minute, another because…” “And another three for no definable reason,” Meir interrupted gloomily. “Shall we be mischazek together?” Eisik suggested. The three minutes he dedicated to preparing for bed each night had passed and unless he hurried to close his eyes now, tomorrow’s learning would suffer.

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Meir nodded. The following day, they would begin learning for six consecutive hours, from minchah to midnight, while conducting a ta’anis dibbur. They had done such things together in the past, always with blessed results. Maybe the yeshuah would come from there? Three years passed. Eisik, younger than Meir by nearly a full year, was now the father of two children. Shloimy Bar had three sons and Shuki had twins. Meir was the last one left. “Go to the tziyun of Rav Avdimi deman Chaifa,” he was advised by “little” Meir, four grades under him, who had just celebrated his engagement. “I was there in the summer with my family. My mother warned me that if I wasn’t ready to listen to shidduchim yet, I shouldn’t pray there. I was skeptical; I mean, Harav Avdimi wouldn’t harm me… I had no intention of getting engaged before my twentieth birthday next winter. My older sister was davening fervently and I just couldn’t resist. Tomorrow I’m going there to give thanks to Hashem, just as the segulah requires: you go there once to ask and once to say thank you. D’you want to come with me?” “What about your sister?” Meir asked quietly. “She’s married already. She got engaged a month and a half after praying at the tziyun and got married three weeks ago.” “Little Meir” was flippant as only a bachur who gets engaged unexpectedly can be. Meir’s heart broke for the umpteenth time. “I’ll come,” he said. “Let me know half an hour before you leave.” Another year passed. “Recite the whole sefer Tehillim at the graveside of Reb Asher Lemel on the day of his yahrtzeit. He’s buried on Har Hazeisim.” This suggestion came page 4 story supplement PESACH 5768

from Itzik, a bachur who had barely completed shiur gimmel. “A van full of bachurim from my brother’s yeshivah made the trip and every single bachur on the van was engaged within half a year. I joined them just for the experience. I wasn’t dreaming of getting engaged at all.” Itzik had gotten engaged the previous night and his friends were teasing that he and his wife would ride the bus together on a youth-fare bus card. Meir went there too. He visited Amukah once a year, just to be on the safe side. “When you’re a twenty-five-year-old single bachur, you can’t be too picky about shidduch suggestions - or segulos,” he often said, making peace with the “label” people had begun sticking him with. “I’m willing to travel all the way to Metulah if it means I won’t have to be the only one without a tallis.” Of course, there were other matters that pierced his heart other than being the only one without a tallis, but those he kept bottled up inside.

‫טטט‬ When Meir turned twenty-six, and even his steady quips had grown dull and sounded bitter, he came across Kupat Ha’ir’s Rosh Hashanah brochure. He read a story about a woman whose brother had been in a terrible car accident in the United States. He was in critical condition. The woman contributed to Kupat Ha’ir but her brother’s condition continued to deteriorate. His systems were on the verge of collapse. The woman contributed once more, $2000 this time, and ran to the home of Harav Kanievsky, shlit”a. Rebbetzin Kanievsky blessed her brother and brought her in to see the Rav. “This woman has contributed beyond derech hateva,” she told the Rav, and he gave his blessing, too. The woman’s brother recuperated in a way that was definitely not derech hateva, just as Rav Kanievsky had predicted: If someone wants a yeshuah that is beyond derech hateva, he should contribute beyond derech hateva. Meir’s head whirled. I’m a lost case, he said to himself. I’m past the age. There’s no reason to think I have any more chance of getting engaged tomorrow than I’ve had until now. This is what I need, something beyond derech hat-

eva. But Meir didn’t have $2000, and that was the number that had been etched in his mind. “If only I had $2000,” he lamented to one of his friends, “maybe I’d be engaged by now.” He didn’t want to leave his learning – but he wanted to get engaged, more than anything else in the world. Throughout the aseres yemei teshuvah, the idea churned through his mind. “How can I get hold of $2000?” he asked anyone willing to listen. Some people thought he was crazy; some pitied him; some hoped along with him. But no one had a dream deal up his sleeve. “You think the $2000 have to come out of your pocket?” asked his brother-in-law, only one year older than him and already the father of six children, bli ayin hara. “Collect $2000 for Kupat Ha’ir. Yours, other people’s – what does it matter if you’re the oseh or the me’aseh? On the contrary, one who inspires others to give is considered greater than one who gives in his own right.” Meir thought about this new insight carefully. When all of Klal Yisrael was preoccupied with searching for just the right lulav and esrog, Meir was busy appealing to every well-off person he knew to contribute to Kupat Ha’ir. He made a note of every contribution in a little pad. Although he preferred large contributions, he did not make light of the little ones. The telephone calls he made were sometimes interesting and sometimes exhausting; the house calls uncomfortable but also rather fascinating. He very quickly discovered that some wealthy people had a harder time parting from cash than poor kollel yungerleit and that elderly people whom no one remembered gave generously, perhaps to show their gratitude that someone had knocked on their door. He found himself helping to build sukkahs with boards that smelled of old age and marveled when he was dispatched with a pidyon far more generous than he had expected. Slowly, the pages in his little pad filled up. Soon he had NIS 5000 worth of contributions. “Can you think of anyone who might want to contribute to Kupat Ha’ir?” he asked everyone who would give him the time of day. Once again, some people shook

their heads in pity while others encouraged him to go ahead, but no one had any ideas that would help him reach his goal. The last NIS 3000 were the hardest to collect. He had turned to everyone he could think of but now he had run out of ideas and he was still far from his goal of $2000. “Why does it have to be $2000?” his mother asked, unable to see her son so close to despair. “$1500 for a bachur like you isn’t beyond derech hateva?”

‫טטט‬ But Meir was uneasy. Every so often, he found someone else to contribute and another few hundred shekels were added to his list. He refused to despair. “What about Uncle Baruch?” his sister asked one day when she saw him riffling threw his ubiquitous pad, a dejected look on his face. “Uncle Baruch?” Meir was doubtful. Uncle Baruch was a great uncle who was not very close to the family. He lived in Tel Aviv, which made it hard to visit him. “He’s not a wealthy man and he doesn’t have much free time, either. I hardly know him…” Still, he had no one else to try. He called. No one can bite you through the phone, he said to himself to bolster his courage as the phone page 5 story supplement PESACH 5768


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rang. Uncle Baruch was actually very agreeable. He listened attentively to Meir’s sales pitch for Kupat Ha’ir and then asked sharply, “Tell me, how is it that you became a fundraiser for Kupat Ha’ir? Can’t spend all day in yeshivah anymore, eh? I understand, it’s not easy… but maybe you can find a position that’s a little more respectable than a glorified schnorrer?” Meir’s voice cracked a little as he explained. “It’s not hard for me to sit in yeshivah, Uncle Baruch, because learning is my whole life. I don’t have much else of a life, you know,” he said, trying to mask the bitterness of his words with a jesting tone of voice. “Nor am I a schnorrer…” “Well, what then?” Uncle Baruch asked skeptically. “How come a spirit of generosity suddenly entered your heart?” For a split second, Meir was tempted to hang up on his uncle or deliver a sharp retort. Who had given him permission to trespass on his private feelings? Instead he found himself answering the question with utmost sincerity. “Look, Uncle Baruch,” he said. “I’m twenty-six years old. I want to establish my own home; it’s high time. Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a said that when someone contributes to Kupat Ha’ir beyond derech hateva, he merits a yeshuah that is beyond derech hateva. (For the sake of accuracy, it must be noted that Rav Kanievsky had said it the other way around). But Meir didn’t notice that he had transposed the gadol’s words. I’m in need of a yeshuah that’s beyond derech hateva, but I don’t have money of my own, so I’m collecting from others instead,” he concluded with difficulty. “How much money are you trying to raise?” Uncle Baruch asked softly. “Two thousand dollars,” Meir replied. His voice was still unsteady and he was eager to conclude this uncomfortable conversation already. “How much do you have already?” “Five thousand, six hundred shekels.” What now? page 6 story supplement PESACH 5768

Would Uncle Baruch agree to make up what was missing? Meir’s emotions hovered between hope and pain. “I’ll give you one thousand shekels and I might have a few friends who will be willing to help. Here, let me give you some phone numbers, but write quickly. I have to hang up already.” Uncle Baruch fired a list of telephone numbers at Meir and he frantically scribbled them down. As soon as he hung up the phone, he collapsed onto the couch, exhausted. Uncle Baruch’s questions had been difficult for him to deal with. A thousand shekels was a lot of money, though, and he had names of other people who might help. But he felt he couldn’t handle any more. How much humiliation could a person handle? How many strangers could he approach? How could people who didn’t have money merit a yeshuah beyond derech hateva? Meir hoped no one would walk into the house just then. He needed to be alone with his thoughts for a while, alone with his steadily receding dream. Would he ever get engaged? Over the next few days, as Meir made up his mind to make one phone call a day and slowly working his way through the list his uncle had given him, Uncle Baruch was making some inquiries in his own right. Meir’s sincere voice, the manner in which he had chosen to work toward his goal, the way he had handled the pointed question Uncle Baruch had thrown at him – Uncle Baruch was more sensitive than Meir thought he was and he liked what he had heard. Even before Meir had reached his goal of $2000, Uncle Baruch phoned his parents and suggested a shidduch. Must we tell you that the plate was broken besha’ah tovah and that Meir’s joy knew no bounds?Must we describe the emotion with which Meir deposited “his” two thousand dollars with Kupat Ha’ir? “Beyond derech hateva,” Meir said to Uncle Baruch, his shadchan, with moist eyes. “Whoever contributes to Kupat Ha’ir beyond derech hateva merits a yeshuah that is beyond derech hateva,” his uncle agreed. Because it was from here that Meir’s yeshuah arrived.

“Shimon!” Ima very nearly raised her voice in reprimand, but something gave her pause. Shimon didn’t look well. “What’s the matter, Shimon?” she asked, placing a hand on his forehead. No fever, baruch Hashem. But his eyes were large and shiny and his face looked peaked and pale. “Do you feel okay?” she asked. Shimon shook his head no. “Does something hurt you?” Shimon shook his head again. Ima sat down at the edge of the bed. “Did you feel okay at night?” she asked. A barely perceptible shake of the head. “Why didn’t you call me?” Suddenly, Shhimon’s eyes filled with tears. With growing alarm, Ima saw his body slump with weakness. She hurriedly prepared to leave the house; she intended to take Shimon to the doctor pronto! By the time Ima found his magnetic card, Shimon was feeling better. Ima found him sitting up in bed looking just fine. “What was the matter with you before?” his mother wondered, breathing a sigh of relief. “I don’t know,” Shimon replied honestly. “I suddenly didn’t have the strength to talk or even move my head. But it passed.” Ima kept him home from school that day. It was aseres yemei teshuvah and she had a lot of work to do. A trip to the doctor was not in her plans. In the evening, Shimon acted sick again. He had no appetite and crawled into bed with his clothing on. Ima once again placed a hand on his forehead, promising herself to take him to the doctor the next day no matter what. But the next day brought a spate of new errands. “We’ll contribute to Kupat Ha’ir and that’s it,” Shimon’s father said when he heard the situation. He sent Shimon himself downstairs to place the contribution in the pushka near the bus stop. It seemed


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A Child as a Gift

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as if the matter was behind them. On Yom Kippur, Shimon felt positively awful. He cried from weakness and an indefinable pain. His mother mentally flogged herself for not having taken him to the doctor the previous week. Immediately after yomtov, they went to the off-hours clinic, where Shimon was given a thorough examination. “Looks like the flu,” the doctor said. “Nothing to worry about. His throat’s a bit red, so pay attention to make sure he doesn’t develop strep.” Ima breathed a sigh of relief but deep down, she wasn’t altogether calm. Another day passed and Shimon didn’t feel any better. “I want to take him to our regular doctor,” Shimon’s mother said to her husband. The sukkah decorations would wait. Shimon’s health was more important. The doctor examined Shimon and made a face. “Something’s not right, but I’m not sure what it is,” he said. “It might be just the flu. He might be coming down with something. Come back in a few days.” That afternoon, Shimon felt impossibly weak again. It was a busy time at home, though, and Shimon was a good and quiet boy who didn’t want to make trouble for anyone. He felt very confused about the way he was feeling. Was he sick? Sometimes he felt completely okay. Maybe the whole thing was nothing at all. On erev Sukkos, Ima asked Abba to take Shimon to the doctor again. “I

B Bnei


– Netiv o rak

want the doctor to see him before yomtov,” she said firmly. “You don’t play around with a child’s health.” The doctor was not pleased. “I want you to take him to Schneider’s Hospital,” he said. “The child doesn’t look good and this is going on too long already. I need to be sure that we’re not missing any unhealthy developments.” Abba was alarmed. “It’s erev Sukkos,” he pleaded with the doctor. “How can I go to the hospital now? What will be with a sukkah and the arba minim? How will my wife cope on her own? Even if he’s perfectly fine, the hospital won’t discharge him so fast. What do I need this headache for?” Silently he added, Another contribution to Kupat Ha’ir… The doctor gave in. He handed Abba a sheaf of papers and instructed Abba to take Shimon to the lab and have them do numerous tests. “At least we’ll know where we stand,’ he said. If you don’t make the lab before it closes, go to Schneider. You must get the bloodwork done immediately, no ifs ands or buts.” They went to the la, did the bloodwork, and returned home. When the first day of yomtov was over, they packed overnight bags and traveled to their grandparents in Netivot. They were in middle of receiving their kisses and hugs when Abba’s cell phone rang. “This is Dr. Katz,” a voice said. Shimon’s father furrowed his brow. “I want you to drop by my office and pick up a referral slip to the emergency room,” Dr. Katz said. Shimon’s father nearly burst out laughing. Shimon was feeling wonderful, baruch Hashem, and they were so far from home. But the doctor refused to listen. “Now, right now,” he insisted. “I don’t care if you’re in Eilat. Come back, get the referral slip and take him to Schneider. Tonight.” “But why?” Shimon’s father asked. “We just got here. Why can’t it wait until the morning?” “The morning might be too late,” the doctor said slowly, his voice filled with foreboding. “I’m sorry to say this, but it seems you don’t understand the situapage 8 story supplement PESACH 5768

tion. Have you ever heard of leukemia?” The room spun wildly. Shimon’s father didn’t want to say another word lest Sabba and Savta panic. “I understand,” he said heavily. I understand. We’re leaving immediately.” His wife blanched. The way back was very difficult. Shimon sat near the window, looking out and pretending he hadn’t understood a word. But he was no fool. He knew that if they were taking a taxi back to their city two minutes after they had arrived, there had to be a good reason. He thought of the pictures he had seen of bald children and silently fingered his long black peyos. His mother recited Tehillim the entire way. She tried to hide her tears, but Shimon sensed them anyway. And his father… his father felt fear grip his heart. The fear was so strong that he did the only thing that could help: he took out his cell phone and contributed to Kupat Ha’ir. They made good time. Yad Mordechai was behind them. Once again, fear filled Shimon’s father’s heart. Only a quarter of an hour had passed since his last contribution, but he dialed again, contributed an additional sum and managed to stop hyperventilating for a few minutes. Not far from Ashkelon, he called again, and then at Kastina, and at Rishon Letziyon and then in Tel Aviv. Contributing to Kupat Ha’ir was the only way he knew to ease the terrible pressure threatening to crush him. Standing in front of the doctor’s office, which the doctor had opened especially for them, Shimon’s father dialed Kupat Ha’ir once more. “I can’t explain the uncontrollable urge I felt,” he related later. “I felt that I couldn’t, I simply couldn’t go inside. My feet trembled. I had to be strong for my wife and children, but I couldn’t even breathe. Contributing gave me the feeling that I was connected to Hashem, that the gates of heaven were open. I had to feel that feeling over and over again.” The grim-faced doctor showed them the test results. They didn’t have to be medical experts to see that all the values were nowhere near what they should be. Dr. Katz looked at Shimon pityingly. “Go to Schneider,” he said. “I imagine they’ll repeat all the tests. You’ll be in good hands there, in any case.” “In the good hands of Hashem, you mean,” Shimon’s father said, impatient to leave the doctor’s office so

he could contribute again. At Schneider hospital, they went to the emergency room, where a doctor glanced at the referral letter. “Can I see the tests, please?” he asked. Shimon’s father handed them to the doctor, feeling the by-now-familiar crushing sensation. The doctor glanced at the results and signaled for another doctor to join him. Shimon did not miss the look exchanged by the two doctors. “Let’s go into the room for a minute,” the first doctor said. He explained that they would take some initial tests to get a clearer picture of the situation. “These test results don’t leave much room for doubt,” he explained, “but that’s the procedure. Did Dr. Katz tell you what he suspects?” They nodded. Two broken parents and a ten-year-old boy who understood everything. “Is there anything you’d like to say before we begin?” the doctor asked Shimon, stroking his cheek. “Yes,” Shimon whispered. “Abba, contribute to Kupat Ha’ir again.” The next few hours were filled with tension. Tube after tube was filled with Shimon’s blood and form after form was filled out. Shimon barely spoke. What was there to say? This was no time to talk. He refrained from crying or sighing, too, saving that for a different time. The tests were not the hard part, he knew. The night slowly gave way to dawn. What would the new day bring? When the results were finally in, the doctors looked at them and furrowed their brows. They refused to say a word. They compared the test results with those from the first lab and asked Shimon to go for another battery of tests. The tension was unbearable. Shimon was inside, his mother at his side; his father paced the corridor. What more could he do? He had poured out his hear in prayer to Hashem, recited Tehillim for as long as he could concentrate and contributed to Kupat Ha’ir once every two hours at least. The sights he saw in the hospital broke his heart. The world was at a standstill here. Everything was slower, sadder. Were they about to start a new chapter in their lives? Shimon stepped out and the nerve-wracking waiting began anew. Hope insisted on pushing its way into

their hearts, but cold logic shoved it away. The look on the doctors’ faces was not encouraging. “Nu?” Shimon’s mother asked, cornering one of the doctors. “We’ll come inside to speak to you in a little while,” the doctor replied, refusing to say another word. Shmuel and his parents saw doctor after doctor enter the same conference room, and once again, fear gripped their hearts with its huge hands. Shimon looked at the small red marks the needles had left in his arm. This is only the beginning, he thought to himself. It’s only going to get worse. He doesn’t understand, Shimon’s father thought, glancing sidewise at his son. He’s a child; he doesn’t grasp the severity of the situation, his mother thought. Shimon sat on the bench and swung his legs. His parents didn’t dream that he understood everything. The tension was killing him as surely as it was them. “You can take your son and go home,” the doctors said, coming out of the conference room. “What?” Shimon turned his head, unable to believe his ears. “Is the situation so bad that there’s nothing you can do?” The same thought passed simultaneously through his parent’s minds. “He’s fine except for a slight strep infection,” one of the doctors said. “Here’s a prescription for antibiotics. You can take him home and go see the doctor for further instructions. Thank G-d.” “But the doctors said…” “That the test results you brought were disastrous. You didn’t have to be an expert to know they could mean only one thing. I know. I saw them. But we tested Shimon twice and everything is perfectly fine. We thought we might have made a mistake, so we tested him again. The second tests are fine too. He’s a perfectly healthy child; maybe he has a touch of the flu. I wish we could tell that to everyone who comes here.” They left the hospital and tried to flag down a cab. None of them said a word. “Nu, Shimon, what do you have to say?” his father asked when they had settled in the car. “Contribute to Kupat Ha’ir again,” Shimon replied page 9 story supplement PESACH 5768


The Diamond less Ring

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“You’re mother called again,” Tzippy said, looking at her husband helplessly. “The ring again?” Motty looked up, alarmed at the pallor on his wife’s face. “You know,” he said passionately, “I think I’m never going to lie again in my whole life. We couldn’t possibly suffer a worse punishment than the one we’re going through now.” “Oh, yes we could,” Tzippy sighed. “Wait. We told them we’d come for the first days of yomtov. We have a beautiful, happy holiday ahead of us. Why do you think it couldn’t get any worse than it is now? You’ll feel the real punishment on your skin there. And I’ll feel it even more than you. You’re their son, after all. Parents always forgive their children. I’m the daughter-in-law. “You know what?” she asked, her voice trembling. “I simply won’t go there for yomtov.” Motty paced the room, his heart in a state of turmoil. His mother had bought his wife an especially valuable ring with a huge diamond. She’d paid more than ten thousand dollars for it. What had gotten into her? Who needed this tzarah on their heads now? It was threatening their shalom bayis. But it went beyond that. She had bought the ring – fine. Why was she putting so much pressure on them now? Why was she causing his wife so much distress, frightening her, making her squirm? She had given Tzippy the ring – now it was theirs to do with as they pleased! You’re not allowed to think that way about your mother, a little voice inside him said. She’s your mother and you have to respect her. She wanted to show you how special Tzippy is. She bought her an expensive gift and it’s her right to want to see Tzippy wearing the ring on her finger. But therein lay the problem.

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Tzippy washed her hands for the festive brunch in the teachers’ room marking the completion of half the school year. She placed her rings on the plastic tablecloth… and forgot about them. She was newly married and not yet accustomed to her rings. After the brunch, the teachers bunched up the plastic tablecloth and threw it in the garbage. Tzippy still didn’t realize that she had forgotten to put back on her rings. It was only after three or four days, on erev Shabbos, that she realized her rings were gone. A frantic search of the house yielded no results. She wracked her brain to figure out when she had had them last and gave a gasp of dismay as she suddenly remembered. A panicky phone call to the municipality left them with no hope. A ring in a pile of garbage from four days ago? It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Tzippy was terribly distressed about the loss of her rings and more than a little bit nervous about what her mother-in-law, who had sunk a huge amount of money into her diamond ring, would say when she learned it had gotten lost so fast. Motty felt uncomfortable, too. His mother had repeatedly made sure both he and Tzippy knew how valuable the diamond was. “Hanosen matanah lachavero tzarich lehodio,” she’d said with a smile. “If you don’t know that something is very valuable, you don’t know to be extra careful. A diamond is an asset. Guard it.” And now that asset was in the garbage dump. Since then, Tzippy had been avoiding her mother-inlaw as much as possible. The warm relationship that had sprung up between them was reduced to occasional telephone calls. When they met, Tzippy’s fear that her mother-in-law would notice the missing rings introduced an underlying tension. Tzippy’s mother-inlaw wondered what had happened to Tzippy. She used to be so friendly, so open and forthcoming, so tactful and pleasant to talk to. Why was she suddenly so jumpy

and withdrawn? I suppose everyone has their days, she thought to herself after a telephone conversation with Tzippy that went surprisingly well. That was the Tzippy she knew and loved. How could the same person be so different at different times? Everything changed the day Tzippy’s mother-in-law finally noticed that Tzippy wasn’t wearing her rings. “Where are they?” she asked. “I forgt them,” Tzippy said, mentally adding, I forgot them in the teachers’ room a long time ago. “What a shame. They’re so pretty. You know, come to think of it, I haven’t seen you wearing them for quite some time now.” Tzippy did her best to change the subject. The next chance she got, she asked to her husband to cut their visit short. “She asked about the rings,” she whispered frantically, and he understood. The next time they met was at a relative’s wedding. Tzippy tried to evade her mother-in-law’s gaze, but her mother-in-law caught her standing near a wall and chatting with one of the cousins. “Again you forgot them?” she asked, trying to inject a friendly note in her voice. Tzippy blanched and nodded weakly. “Never mind; it’s not the end of the world. It happens.” She smiled. “When you come for Shabbos, make sure to remember, okay? I haven’t seen that ring in a while.” Tzippy half nodded, half shrugged. Her mother-inlaw took the gesture to mean “yes.” “Great. You’ll make me happy,” she said, leaving the scene. Tzippy’s heart sank. On Thursday evening, Motti told his mother that they wouldn’t be coming for Shabbos as planned. He didn’t provide an explanation, but he let his mother know that the reason had ongoing implications. Five weeks passed before the couple went to Motti’s parents again for Shabbos. “The rings…?” Tzippy’s mother-in-law asked the ques-

tion with a smile, but Tzippy thought she would explode. “What does she want from me?” she wept quietly into her pillow that night, clenching and unclenching her fists. “Why am I to blame that she gave me such an expensive diamond? Why did she give it to me… to torture me like this now?” Motti did not reply. His mother was usually so gentle, so tactful and refined, so pleasant. What had gotten into her? True, he could understand her; she had paid a fortune for that ring… but she had to have noticed Tzippy’s distress! Tzippy told her husband that she refused to go to his mother’s house again unless he told her about the rings first. The next time Motty spoke to his mother, she mentioned the rings and Motty was backed up into a corner. Suddenly, he felt what his wife had been feeling like, and he couldn’t handle the pressure. “Ima, she gave the ring in to be cleaned,” he said. “It’s going to take a while. Don’t pressure Tzippy, okay? She feels very uncomfortable.” His mother agreed readily and Motti and Tzippy breathed a sigh of relief. But Motty’s escape tactic proved to be a bitter mistake. Two weeks later, Tzippy’s mother-in-law inquired whether Tzippy had picked up the ring yet and when she could finally see it again. “We’ll come after bein hazemanim,” Motty said, hoping she’d forget by then. “Wonderful, and bring along the pictures and the rings. Tell Tzippy to transfer her rings to her other hand. It’s a segulah to remember,” she quipped. But Motti and Tzippy were in no mood for quips.When Motty’s mother called on Thursday night to remind her to bring the rings, Motti and Tzippy thought they page 11 story supplement PESACH 5768


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would explode. “We’re going out right now to buy you new rings,” Motti said with determination. “I know we don’t have the money, but I’d rather not eat chicken all year, even on Shabbos, than live with this constant tension.” They took their checkbook to a large jewelry store and Tzippy picked out the rings that were the most similar to the ones she had lost. They weren’t cheap, even without the diamond. “What shall I set in the ring?” the salesman asked. The rings the couple had chosen were top-of-the-line. Funny, the couple didn’t look like people who could afford such jewelry. “A CZ, of course,” Motty replied. “The largest one you have.” “Really? How come?” “My wife had a ring like that, with a stone of nearly two carats, completely clean. The ring got lost. We want as close an imitation as possible.” The salesman whistled. “How do you lose a two-carat ring? That’s like throwing ten thousand dollars in the garbage; are you aware of that?” “Yes, we are,” Tzippy replied, choking back tears. The value of the diamond meant nothing to her any more. She felt humiliated, ashamed and terrified of her mother-in-law. “Chin up, Tzippy,” Motty said, trying to sound cheerful. “You’ll have a new ring and all that pressure will ease up. What could be better?” But his bravado disappeared when he wrote out check after post-dated check, each for a sum that amounted to half his monthly kollel stipend. Considering the fact hat Tzippy did not have a steady job – she worked as a substitute teacher from time to time – that was an awful lot. “But the most important thing is peace of mind,” he said to Tzippy on the way home, trying to boost both of their spirits. “Parnassah is from Shamayim. Hashem will help.” They went for Shabbos with lighter hearts. Motty’s mother greeted them warmly and still from afar, page 12 story supplement PESACH 5768

Tzippy extended her beringed hand for her motherin-law to see. Her mother-in-law embraced her. “Thank you for bringing them,” she said warmly. “I can’t explain why,” she said, “but they’re very close to my heart.” Tzippy smiled. “And they look brand new. You can tell you’ve had them cleaned.” Tzippy smiled again. The nightmare was finally over. A week passed and then another. One month later Motti’s mother called. Tzippy couldn’t respond to her as freely as she once had because the tense period she’d endured had permanently undermined what was once a close relationship. Still, she was completely unprepared for the storm that was about to break loose. “Look, Tzippy,” her mother-in-law said, sounding slightly worried. “Ever since you left on motzoei Shabbos, something about your ring has been bothering me. The diamond doesn’t look right. Maybe the setting needs another prong? Most settings are not made to accommodate such a large diamond. I want you to send it to me with David. He’ll be stopping by in about an hour. I’ll take the ring back to the store where I bought it and ask them to fix whatever’s wrong.” The sky had fallen. “I won’t be home in another hour,” she said desperately. “I’m leaving the house now.” “Oh, what a shame,” her mother-in-law said disappointedly. “Okay, we’ll find a different way. I want you to have it for yomtov.” Tzippy hung up the phone, stepped out of her apartment for a minute to keep her word and then sunk onto the couch, stunned. Motty found her that way two hours later when he returned from kollel. “There’s a dybbuk in this cursed ring,” she whispered, a note of terror in her voice. Motty looked at her in shock. Had his wife been driven mad? “You mother wants to take it back to the store where she bought it so they can fix something, I don’t even know what exactly…” She burst into tears. “Motty, what will be? What will be? The store will realize immediately that it’s a different ring and a CZ. Your

mother will know we’ve been lying to her all this time. I can’t handle this; I can’t!” she wailed. Motti could literally touch the pressure she was feeling. “We won’t let her take it,” he said firmly. “David was supposed to stop by here to pick it up before,” she said. “I told her I was going out. But she’ll send someone tomorrow. I can’t go on like this!” she wailed again. “I know it’s only a ring, but it’s really more than that. It’s destroying our relationship with your parents.” “Stop talking nonsense,” Motty said. He had to put a stop to her hysteria. “But what should I do?” “Start forgetting your rings again so she won’t have the opportunity to take it. She knows already that you’re forgetful. She’s seen the rings, so she no longer suspects they were lost.” “We should have told her the truth right away,” Tzippy whispered. It was Motti who had told the lie, but she’d have done the same in his place. “It eats at me all the time,” Motty agreed. “I feel that these yissurim are a punishment for the lie I told.” If he had told the truth immediately, it would have been hard, true – but things would be back to normal by now. A one-time unpleasant experience would have been preferable to the ongoing suffering they were experiencing now.

‫טטט‬ A few more weeks passed. Motty’s mother tried to send messengers to pick up the ring, but Tzippy avoided picking up the phone and didn’t answer the doorbell. Motty had a key and she forewent the pleasure of unexpected company. But for Shabbos Chanukah… for Shabbos Chanukah they had to go. There was no way out! “I’m not going there for Shabbos, ” Tzippy said firmly. “I’m going to my parents. I can’t handle this.” “Stop talking nonsense. We’re going to my parents. It’s their turn and we have no choice.” Motty was really worried now. Things were bad, really bad. Shalom bayis was more important than anything else. “Your mother called again… to remind me to bring the rings,” Tzippy told him the moment he walked in the following day. Motty shrugged. He was careful not to say anything

disrespectful about his parents, but his astonishment at his mother’s behavior had given way to other, negative emotions. “We’ve decided that you’re forgetting them, right?” If there won’t be any choice, I’ll buy her a new diamond, he thought to himself, not daring to say the words aloud. “What doesn’t one do for the sake of peace?” He knew that spending ten thousand dollars in his situation was an incomparably weighty decision. Unbearably weighty. But there was no choice…

‫טטט‬ On erev chanukah, they received Kupat Ha’ir’s yeshuos brochure. Tzippy read it from beginning to end. Motty read it, too, and they both had the same thought – but neither of them voiced it aloud. “Maybe we should contribute to Kupat Ha’ir?” Motti finally worked up the courage to suggest. “How can Kupat Ha’ir help? Can they give me back a ring that got lost half a year ago in the teachers’ room? Do you think a hand will reach out from the heavens and give me a two-carat diamond? Kupat Ha’ir is a wonderful organization, but there’s a limit to what we can expect of it!” She made perfect sense, but Motty was utterly broken by the thought of having to borrow ten thousand dollars to buy a new diamond. “It’s not our job to solve Kupat Ha’ir’s problems,” Motty said. “I’ll make the contribution; let them figure out how to return the ring.” He got his checkbook and made out a check for a very considerable sum. Then he and Tzippy went to mail it from the nearby mailbox. As Motty slipped the

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od ewo -N.J. k a envelope through the slot, he and Tzippy whispered a fervent, heartfelt prayer. Returning home, they heard the phone ringing. They barely had time to slip the key in the lock and run to answer it. They didn’t take the time to look at the Caller ID – if they had, they wouldn’t have taken the call. The call came from Motti’s parents’ house and Tzippy avoided phone calls from that number like the plague. “Motty?” It was his mother. “I’m glad it’s you. Is Tzippy with you?” “Yes.” “I want to talk to you privately for a moment. Can you come up with an excuse to be alone for a moment?” Motti’s knees turned to jelly. He went into another room and closed the door behind him, noting the look of astonishment on Tzippy’s face as he did so. “Motty,” his mother said worriedly. “I’ve decided to stop this ridiculous game. This is very unpleasant for me, but I’ll swallow the unpleasantness. I’ve noticed that Tzippy doesn’t answer my calls and even when we do talk, she doesn’t respond normally. I don’t understand what’s going on. What’s bothering her? At first, I thought maybe she lost her diamond ring. But whenever I asked, she said, ‘I forgot,’ and I didn’t think she’d lie. I was glad to see that she still has the rings, but the way she’s been behaving lately is just so strange.” His mother paused for a minute, breathing heavily. Motty vacillated between a strong desire to admit that a small lie had led to the whole complicated mess and his desire to understand the reason for his mother’s phone call. “So I’ve decided that that’s it. I’m not going to hide the truth from you anymore.” Motty’s heart skipped a beat. Did she know something? Had Tzippy’s rings reached her in some mysterious way? How humiliating… “When you buy a setting, it comes with a CZ so you

can gain an impression of what it will look like with a diamond,” his mother explained. “I bought Tzippy a huge diamond and I told you and her so on more than one occasion. A few months ago, they called me from the store. They told me that they had thoroughly reorganized the whole store and they found an envelope with my name on it. Inside the envelope was the valuable diamond I had bought! They forgot to change the CZ for the diamond! All this time, Tzippy’s been wearing a fake diamond, and here I was telling her about how valuable it was! I was so ashamed I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to take the ring to the store so they can change the stone. But Tzippy has been making it impossible for me!” She fell silent, waiting for her son to express his understanding of her frustration. But Motty said not a word. How could his mother know that he had been a heartbeat away from borrowing money to buy a new diamond? And if he had bought a new diamond, the store would have immediately noticed the lie! Oh, how humiliating that would have been! They would have paid a fortune of money and given themselves away in the end! “It’s okay, Ima,” he heard himself say. “Tzippy won’t be angry. Besides, you know what? Maybe this whole story is min Hashamayim. I don’t think it’s a good idea to set such an expensive diamond in a ring. Rings can get lost, you know. A few of Tzippy’s friends who got married about the same time we did have already lost theirs. Maybe you can sell it and buy something else instead?” “I’ll think about it. The main thing is that you’re not angry.” She breathed a sigh of relief. “Tell Tzippy I said thank you. I felt so awful…” “It’s okay, Ima. Tzippy really won’t mind. I hope she’ll call you soon.” He left the room to find Tzippy pacing angrily up and down. She sensed that her husband and mother-inlaw had been talking about her but she hadn’t the faintest idea what Motti had heard. “Listen,” he said to her, a huge grin breaking out on his face. “Remember when you wanted to solve all Kupat Ha’ir’s problems? You won’t believe this, but Kupat Ha’ir is a lot more creative than we thought. Listen to what might have happened if we hadn’t contributed!”

Reb Menachem Dovid felt the world slowly closing in on him. The latest test results were bad, very bad. The disease was back, with a vengeance. His body, still weak from the previous battle he had fought, was under attack once more. Reb Menachem Dovid did not fall into despair, but he was realistic about the future. One by one, he completed his affairs in this world, paying off his many debts, appointing people to take care of various matters, writing his will and immersing himself for many hours in teshuvah, tefillah and good deeds. At the same time, he continued undergoing strong treatment that attacked his disease aggressively, though the doctors had very little hope it would prove effective. Strong as Reb Menachem Dovid was – or tried to be, his wife was utterly broken. They had been blessed with a large family; some of the children were married and some were still at home. She was utterly dependent on him. She could not begin to imagine life without him. It was hard for Reb Menachem Dovid to see his wife looking like a shadow of her former self. He couldn’t bear it when she tried to hide her swollen eyes and stifle her heartrending sobs as she recited Tehillim behind a locked door. Worst of all was the thought of how his family would manage after he left them. He preferred to focus on the things he had to take care of now, before his “transfer” to the World to Come. But she wanted to try other things. Maybe it was still possible to tear the decree? Maybe there was some hishtadlus they could do? For her sake – for her sake only – he went to try another direction. He consulted with top doctors; chareidi askanim listened and sent faxes and received responses; and the glimmer of a chance appeared. Unlike most surgeons, who refused to operate for fear the patient might die on the operating table, there was one world-renowned specialist abroad who was willing to take the risk. Of course, the procedure would cost a veritable fortune. “What for?” Reb Menachem Dovid said over and over again. “What for? Why should we go into debt; why


His Last Wish



N im – ew Yo y a r

should I suffer the pain? Why should I allow myself to be cut open? Let me at least leave this world with my body intact so I can look forward to rising whole at techiyas hameisim.” “But maybe… maybe a miracle will occur? Maybe this doctor is the right shaliach? Maybe…” “I’ve never left Eretz Yisrael in my life.” Reb Menachem Dovid didn’t want to go. It wasn’t just leaving Eretz Yisrael that bothered him. He was afraid of dying abroad, of being at the mercy of non-Jews. And he feared that yet another shattered hope would be too much for his wife to bear. His heart told him where he was headed and the fact that a single doctor somewhere was willing to take a gamble with his life couldn’t change that. But she was insistent and her tears could melt even the most impenetrable fortress. “Do it for me,” she pleaded. “For my sake and the children’s.” Now she was weeping openly, not bothering to stifle her heartrending sobs. His heart went out to her. His children, both the married ones and those still at home, sided with their mother. They didn’t want to oppose him openly but he saw it in their eyes. Could he be so cruel as to think only of himself? Reb Menachem Dovid thought about the matter for a while. The decision was agony to make. He allowed only his oldest son to enter his room to discuss the matter with him. “I’m already familiar with the pain I’ll have to endure in this world,” he said. “But now we’re talking about suffering of a different kind. A person’s neshamah is in great distress between petirah and burial. Here in Yerushalayim, they bury the deceased on the same day. If I die abroad, the flight itself takes twelve hours. Add the time it will take to get all the documentation in order, to wait for a flight, to make a levayah in Eretz Yisrael… how can I agree to so much page 15 story supplement PESACH 5768



– m i y

New Yo rk

tza’ar for my neshamah? “What about Ima’s distress?” his son whispered, unsure if he was doing the right thing. “If you don’t go, Ima will live out the rest of her life thinking that maybe, maybe there was still a chance… and who knows? Maybe there really is a chance?” Reb Menachem Dovid withdrew into himself. It was an impossible decision. He preferred to complete his life in Eretz Yisrael without dealing with the hassle of a flight and being among non-Jews in a strange country with a strange language and going through a painful operation that would sap him of what little strength he had. But his wife and children – what would be with them? He sent his son to consult with one of the gedolei hador. The son laid out the facts on the table: his father’s poor chances of recuperation on the one hand, his mother’s insistence on the other. What did halacha dictate in such a case? “He should decide,” the Rav replied. “He has the right to decide either way.” The ball was back in his court. In the end, his wife’s tears won out. Reb Menachem Dovid asked to take along a few sefarim that he had published during his lifetime, his tallis and tefillin and another few items. His wife watched what he was packing with a broken heart. It seemed to her that he would have liked to take along his burial shrouds. Was she wrong in coercing him, at the end of his life, to do something he objected to so strongly? But if he recuperated, he’d be forever grateful… “Why are you so strongly opposed?” she asked over and over again, torn between her fierce desire and her guilt at pressuring him unfairly. “I want to pass away in Eretz Yisrael and be buried in Yerushalayim as soon as possible thereafter. I want a minyan of Yidden at my bedside at yetzias neshamah.” He smiled wryly. “In short, I want the things a dying Jew wants.” “And I want the things a living Jew wants!” she ex-

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claimed, bursting into fresh tears. “I want you healthy and happy, our home complete, our children growing up with a father. I want the things a living Jew wants!” After that, they didn’t discuss the matter again. He bore his fear in his heart; she bore her prayers and hope in hers. Tickets were ordered; arrangements were made for a doctor to accompany him on the flight; the plane took off and Reb Menachem Dovid looked longingly at Eretz Yisrael as it grew small and distant beneath him. Reb Menachem Dovid passed away a few days after surgery, on a Tuesday morning. He did not have a minyan of Yidden at his bedside by yetzias neshamah; only his wife and oldest son were with him to close his eyes. It was only later, when they considered their next step, that the picture became dreadfully clear. Rosh Hashanah would fall on Wednesday night. Thursday and Friday were yomtov days and Shabbos was Shabbos. If they took a Sunday flight, they’d arrive on Monday. Nearly a week would elapse between the petirah and the kevurah! “He passed away alone, abroad, and now a week until his burial…” the widow wept. “Everything he didn’t want; everything he feared, and it’s all because of me!” The hospital walls had heard many a heart-wrenching sob, but never, never, had anyone heard such tortured crying. The widow paced up and down, a river of tears flowing from her eyes as her heart threatened to burst from pain. “Maybe we should bury him here?” a local askan suggested. “Bury him abroad!” The widow was aghast. “In his worst nightmares, he never entertained such an idea! I can’t do it to him; I just can’t!” Guilt gnawed at her with sharp fangs. She felt as though her very soul was being dissected. “We must get him on a plane today,” the broken son said to the askan. He was too preoccupied to feel the pain of orphanhood, to contemplate the extent of his loss, to mourn the tragedy. “It’s pikuach nefesh,” he explained. “ My mother is in danger of losing her sanity. If we board a flight today, we can still bury him in Yerushalayim before Rosh Hashanah.”

“But you need to arrange the necessary documentation to release the corpse from the hospital,” the askan said. “Then you need permission to put the body on a plane… you’ll need to find a flight that has room in the cargo hold… you need permission from the border control… There’s a sea of paperwork that needs to be completed. It takes ten to twelve hours to get everything in order – if everything goes smoothly. “By the time you have all the documentation, it’ll be too late. Even if you find a flight, it’ll arrive in Eretz Yisrael in middle of Rosh Hashanah.” “But this time it’s an absolute must!” the son cried. The family in Eretz Yisrael was no less horrified and they pleaded with their brother abroad to do everything, everything in his power to arrange the necessary paperwork immediately. “There’s a flight at four o’clock,” they told him. “Make sure you’re on it no matter what!” The race began. Without a death certificate, there was no point in approaching border control. The deceased’s son, along with the askan, flew into action. Time was tight. The clerk responsible for transferring the corpse left at twelve thirty. By the time they had the death certificate, it was nearly one o’clock. “Try,” the family in Eretz Yisrael pressed insistently. The oldest son needed no urging. He wanted his father out on the next flight just as badly as they did, but if the clerk had left, what could he do? He called the office, only to be told the clerk had already left. The widow burst into tears once more, grappling with unbearable pangs of conscience. The son lay his head on the table, utterly miserable. The askan looked at them, his heart overflowing with pity. He was helpless to help them… The phone calls from Eretz Yisrael kept pouring in. The siblings were tormented by the thought that their father’s worst nightmare was coming true. They were gripped with pain and anguish and a sense of desperate urgency that had no outlet. “The clerk left already,” the son whispered brokenly to his brothers, who could hear their mother wailing in the background. The brothers were stunned. Could it really be that

their father’s noble soul was destined to endure such suffering? But what could they do? “We’re contributing to Kupat Ha’ir,” one of the siblings shouted into the phone. “Try again!” The family in Eretz Yisrael made a sizeable contribution to Kupat Ha’ir and the oldest son and the devoted askan flew through the city to the federal office buildings. Maybe, by some miracle, they would still find the clerk? The miracle indeed occurred. They found the clerk lingering in the area. The askan withdrew a Jewish calendar from his pocket. “If he doesn’t get on the four o’clock flight,” he explained, pointing to the relevant days, “he won’t be able to leave tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or on Friday. The first possible day will be Sunday, and burial will take place on Monday. That’s nearly a week. According to our religion, the soul suffers terribly until the body of the deceased is buried.” “Which flight do you want to make?” the clerk asked in surprise. “The one that leaves in four hours?” The son and the askan nodded vigorously. Hashem, the son whispered fervently, in the merit of Kupat Ha’ir, please make this work out. The clerk wasn’t Jewish, but he saw the son’s terrible distress and he wanted to help. Still, regulations were regulations. Twelve thirty had come and gone and he had already switched off his computer and locked the office. They had caught up with him as he was on his way out. He deliberated for a brief moment, then wheeled around, returned to his office and arranged the necessary paperwork. The rest went far more smoothly. The askan helped the son navigate the sea of paperwork successfully. At three thirty, the aron boarded the plane and on erev Rosh Hashanah, not long before yomtov was ushered in, Reb Menachem Dovid was buried in the plot he had purchased for himself on Har Hamenuchos. He went to his final rest in peace. page 17 story supplement PESACH 5768

Yeru s

la ha

y im

Veha’er Eineinu Besorasecha

Shmuel walked down the street. When he reached the end of the block, he made an about face and walked back up. Walking was good for him and enabled him to review the “chabureh” he had toiled over so long and so hard. He was very nervous. A few months earlier, he had finally been accepted into the kollel of his dreams. He’d made intensive efforts, both in ruchniyus – tefillah and tzedakah, and in gashmiyus – by asking friends and acquaintances with connections to put in a good word for him. He was relatively young and it was a well-established kollel. The number of avreichim was kept steady; the rosh kollel had no intentions of overextending his commitment. But Shmuel longed to study in that kollel. He had a friend there who told him marvelous things about the incredible atmosphere of hasmadah, the comprehensive scope, the iyun. He studied with the same friend bechavrusa and was extremely impressed. “I’m the least talmid chacham of the chabureh,” his friend told him modestly. “Come to our kollel and you’ll see what kinds of lions we have there! They know all of Torah backward and forward.” Shmuel had always liked to rub shoulders with talmidei chachamim of such caliber. He loved to see for himself the wondrous scene in which questions were raised and answers refuted in a stormy session of give-and take, where thorny sugyos grew clear and significant things were learned from the subtlest nuances. He relished hearing svaros examined and analyzed from all sides until the conclusion was as clear as the day the Torah had been given to Am Yisrael at Har Sinai. He wanted very badly to learn there. It took the rosh page 18 story supplement PESACH 5768

kollel an entire zeman to make inquiries about him, but he had finally grown convinced that Shmuel was worthy of joining his top-notch kollel and given his approval. Shmuel was elated.

‫טטט‬ Not long after he joined the kollel, Shmuel was asked to lead the chabureh for the avreichim. He knew he was being put to the test. The sugyah was the third perek of Maseches Shavuos and it dealt with the topic of “Omer mutar beshvuah.” The learning was very fruitful and he came up with lots of chiddushim, but he was missing some structure that would turn those chiddushim into a powerful mehalech. He sat for hours after kollel studying the sugyos over and over again. He spoke in learning with talmidei chachamim from other kollelim and put all his heart and soul into preparing his talk. His efforts bore fruit. One day, an awesome question occurred to him, a question from a different sugya altogether, a mishnah in the second perek of Horayos. He was momentarily stunned, wondering how the question had never occurred to him before. The question made the entire regular mehalech of learning seem shaky, and the answer, which he arrived at after intense effort and toil, included all his chiddushim and created a brilliant, new mehalech. This was what he had been looking for! Shmuel was terribly excited. The question, the answer, the chiddushim that had become important stepping stones … he felt he had merited incredible siyatta dishmaya. It wasn’t the fruit of his own efforts but direct assistance from Shamayim. His chabureh was going to be a knockout! All he had left to do was fix up and fine-tune. He

worked on the phraseology, stressed important points, prepared an outline and rewrote everything neatly and clearly. Soon he would present his masterpiece before his peers in kollel. He was sure they would approve of his chabureh. It would mark him as a serious avreich and a sharp thinker. This was very important to him. He thanked Hashem for having been so kind to him and prepared to continue learning with redoubled energy. But the day before the big day, a troublesome thought occurred to him. If the question is such a good question, he thought to himself with rising panic, how come I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere? Not in Rishonim, not in Acharonim, not from any of the talmidei chachamim in today’s generation – nowhere! Maybe the question isn’t a question at all? The thought was shocking, painful and most of all – worrying. If the question wasn’t a question, the answer wasn’t an answer, the mehalech wasn’t a mehalech and all he had was a couple of chiddushim which weren’t bad but weren’t particularly impressive, either. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I overlooked something important; maybe I forgot a clear halachah. One of the avreichim might bring that something up in the first five minutes of the shiur and that’s it, the whole thing will fall apart. If that happens, I won’t know where to bury myself of shame. Shmuel became very distressed. There was so little time left. He went to the beis medrash and found a number of outstanding talmidei chachamim there. He asked them if he could discuss an interesting question with them and hear their opinion. “An awesome question,” they all agreed. “What’s the teretz?” Shmuel explained in detail and his audience was very impressed. “But I have another question,” Shmuel said, his voice giving away the tension he felt inside. “If it’s such a basic question, how can it be that I haven’t found it mentioned anywhere?” That was a good question, too, Shmuel’s audience agreed, but none of them had an answer. “Maybe the question is not a question? Maybe I forgot an obvious halacha or Gemara?”

No one in the beis medrash knew of anything that undermined Shmuel’s question. But maybe the avreichim in his kollel, who had just studied this sugya, would know… Shmuel felt his self-confidence plummet. How could he face a group of Torah scholars and speak fluently and confidently when deep in his heart he was terrified that any minute someone would ask how Shmuel could have forgotten a certain something that would topple the intricate edifice he had constructed and turn it into a pile of rubble? Night fell but Shmuel couldn’t sleep. He went to the beis medrash again and paced up and down, reviewing the Gemara over and over again. He opened every sefer he could think of but he couldn’t find “his” question anywhere. What to do? Shmuel sat down at a Gemara, his notebook with the neatly written chabureh beside him. He swayed back and forth, humming the age-old Gemara melody, but his heart was heavy. In his mind’s eye, he envisioned himself beginning to deliver his talk, hesitating a bit, getting a little confused… and then turning beet red and stopping short as someone threw the question he so feared at him. It was a new kollel, the avreichim wanted to know who he was and what he was all about, and he wanted so badly to succeed… he wouldn’t be able to continue learning properly after a public disgrace like that! The humiliation would kill him. Shmuel continued swaying. Even if no one asks the question I’m dreading, he thought to himself, my chabureh won’t be the success I thought it would. The fear and tension I’m feeling will kill my talk even before the question… What does a Yid do at a time like this? He contributes to Kupat Ha’ir! How will that help? he thought to himself bitterly. Will it make me less tense? Will it cause the other avreichim not to ask an obvious question? Will heavy snow fall so that no one comes to kollel? Suddenly, he remembered a sentence he had read in one of Kupat Ha’ir’s previous brochures. “If contributing to Kupat Ha’ir is effective with regard to matters of gashmiyus, how much more so with regard to matters of ruchniyus! page 19 story supplement PESACH 5768

Yer u

ala h s

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Life and … Veha’er Eineinu Besorasecha

That did it. Shmuel decided he would contribute a hundred shekels, a considerable sum for him. For a family that lived on a kollel stipend, a hundred shekels was nothing to sneeze at. But what doesn’t one do for success in Torah study? Shmuel was honest enough to admit that his success did not depend on the worthiness of the question but on the way he related to the whole matter. Still… Shmuel rose and crossed the besi knesses to the row of public telephones. He dialed the familiar number, gave the secretary his credit card information and whispered a fervent prayer. Near the telephones, he found an old, unfamiliar sefer. Ohel Moshe was its name. Shmuel opened the sefer and saw on the first page that it was authored by the Maharil Diskin, zt”l. The first page also told him that the sefer dealt, among other things, with Maseches Horayos. He randomly selected a page and began to read. The question, “his” question, was there, black on white! The answer was different, but it didn’t contradict his own. The most important thing was that the question was there… Shmuel felt like breaking out in a joyous dance. He would have, too, except that there were other people in the beis knesses. He’d found a relatively rare sefer right next to the telephones and opened it to just the right page at just the right time. Can you make light of that?

Should he go or shouldn’t he? Shuki deliberated long and hard. His good friend Yisrael Meir was getting married in Belgium in one week’s time. Should he travel to Belgium to participate in the wedding? On the one hand, Yisrael Meir was a truly good friend. He and Shuki were very close. They had been learning partners for many years, enhancing one another’s understanding of the Gemara. And Shuki knew that Yisrael Meir was having a hard time with the fact that his wedding would be taking place so far away from his friends and acquaintances. “At least I know you’ll come,” Yisrael Meir had told him more than once. Gladdening the heart of a chassan was no trivial matter! On the other hand, Shuki had never left Eretz Yisrael before. He fretted about the learning time that would be wasted on the flights and the trains. He worried about placing himself in a setting so different from that of his yeshivish surroundings, of exposing his neshamah to the atmosphere of a secular country. What would become of his ruchniyus? “Go ask the yeshiva management,” a friend advised him. “They’ll give you a flat-out no and then you won’t have to reach a decision.” Shuki thought it was a good idea. Yisrael Meir would surely understand that if the yeshivah forbade him to go, his hands were tied. “We usually do not allow students to fly abroad to participate in friends’ weddings,” the management told him after a consultation on the matter had been held, “but we’ve decided to make an exception in this case. Yisrael Meir is one of our best students and he deserves to have us go out of our way for him and as for you… we know you won’t forfeit your status as a ben yeshivah because of a brief trip abroad.” The deliberations increased. “Should I go or stay?” Shuki asked his father. Although Shuki’s father was a well-to-do businessman who was as familiar with the airport as he was with his own ga-

lg Be


rage, his son’s Torah learning was the most important thing in the world to him. “What’s the problem, Shuki?” His father couldn’t understand what the big deal was. “If I know you, you’ll learn on the flight, you’ll learn wherever Yisrael Meir’s family puts you up – besides for the few hours of the wedding, when you’ll rejoice with Yisrael Meir – you’ll be learning the entire time, right? So why shouldn’t you be there with him? Do you have any idea how hard it is for a bachur from Eretz Yisrael to get married in a foreign country without his close friends to rejoice with?” Shuki was almost convinced, but only almost… A flight abroad is a flight abroad, he thought to himself over and over again. Someone who flies abroad – even if only to participate in a friend’s wedding – is not the same as someone who spends all his time in the beis medrash. “So don’t go,” said his roommate, who couldn’t stand to see him so distressed. “I’ll tell Yisrael Meir how badly you wanted to rejoice with him. Maybe your father can get you one of those machines, like a satellite hookup or something, where you can see one another in real time.” “And Yisrael Meir will be there all alone…” Shuki was playing devil’s advocate. His friend advised him not to go and he was arguing for going. The decision was made. “I’ll be there,” he told an ecstatic Yisrael Meir over the phone. “I’ll do my best to stick to my regular sedarim, but I’ll be at your side at the wedding.” Shuki wanted to leave Eretz Yisrael as close to the wedding as possible and return as soon as possible thereafter. His father took care of the technical details, buying him an airline ticket to France and, using an international credit card, a ticket for the train that would take him from the airport in France directly to the Belgian capital. The underground train system in

France, and perhaps in all of Europe, is a huge network providing transportation both within individual countries as well as from one country to another. For purposes of regulation, it is necessary to order a ticket in advance and pay via credit card. When you reach the train station, you have to type the correct combination of numbers into a machine and retrieve your pre-ordered ticket. Shuki spoke no French or English, but he was unconcerned because he knew his father had arranged everything down to the last detail for him. Shuki left the house equipped with everything he needed. His handbag held his Gemara, siddur, tefillin, airline ticket and his father’s credit card. Everything was in order. The flight went smoothly and Shuki was delighted that he had barely felt the time passing. He utilized his time to the utmost and covered a lot of ground in his Gemara. He arrived, exactly as he had been coached, at the underground train station. He strode confidently to the machine, which looked exactly as his father had described it and typed in the appropriate numbers. So far so good. But then the digital screen requested an additional number, a four-character secret password. He hadn’t taken down his father’s password! Shuki withdrew his card from the slot and allowed the people behind him to proceed in his place. He tried to reach his parents on his cell phone but he couldn’t get through. The time of his train’s departure loomed very close. The timetable at the station told Shuki that the next train left at dawn. Would he have to spend the night here in the train station with numerous dubious characters? A Jewish boy amidst the masses? He continued trying to reach his parents the entire time. The train would pull up to the station shortly… what would be? I once knew Abba’s password, he thought to himself in frustration. I think there was a 4… a 6… a 0…. What was


m giu l e

the fourth number? He tried his father once more. His fingers, stiff with tension, pressed the keypad on his phone. No answer. No answer. No answer? What should he do? Seven! He nearly jumped for joy. The final digit was a 7. He was sure of it. 7604? 4607? 0746? He had no idea. How many possibilities were there? His Talmudically honed mind was about to consider the equation necessary to find the answer, but cold logic reminded him that if he entered the wrong password two consecutive times, the machine would swallow his card and that would be that. When the line at the machine thinned out, Shuki approached it once more. I’ll try, he thought to himself hopefully. What do I have to lose? Spending the night here would be a nightmare, nothing less! He entered the combination that seemed most likely to him. Maybe, just maybe it was the right one? The system emitted a beep of protest and the card was ejected. I have an idea, he thought suddenly. I’ll go buy a new ticket. I have enough money. The money Abba paid for my ticket will go down the drain, but what can I do? But all the tickets had been sold. The machine did not offer the possibility of supplying a card that had not been ordered in advance. A fellow J e w pass-

page 22 story supplement PURIM 5768

ing through the station heard about Shuki’s problem. In Yiddish interspersed with fragments of English and French, he explained to Shuki that it was impossible to persuade the machine to sell him a ticket. “So let’s cancel my ticket,” Shuki suggested. “Then one seat will be made available and I’ll buy it.” The French Jew agreed it was a good idea. He took Shuki’s card and pressed certain buttons on the machine’s digital keypad. “What’s you password?” he asked Shuki. “I don’t know!” Shuki exclaimed. “Oh! That’s right,” the Jew said, slapping himself on the forehead. “Without your password, you can’t cancel the ticket you ordered.” The train would be pulling up any minute now. Shukli stood there in despair, at a loss for what to do. No, he didn’t want the French Jew to find someplace he could spend the night. He preferred to stay in the train station. Or did he? A little voice inside him whispered that it was dangerous to remain all alone in the train station during the wee hours of the night. The people on the platform would all disappear with the train’s rear wheels and the station would remain eerily empty. A young Jewish boy was easy prey and France had its share of anti-Semitism. People were checking their watches and preparing to board the train. Hysterical now, Shuki dialed his father, then his mother, like a man possessed. No answer… Tears pricked his eyes. He wasn’t a child, but he felt so alone, so lost, so far away. Why had he taken this trip? Why had he left Eretz Yisrael? He had thought he’d be able to stick to his regular sedarim… Tonight would be spent pacing the train station in search of a comfortable but unobtrusive place to wait until the next train, and the following day he’d be exhausted from his harrowing trip. An entire day wasted! In his mind’s eye, he pictured himself arriving in yeshivah after the wedding and telling the bachurim about his “adventure.” “Nu, and did you contribute to Kupat Ha’ir?” Bentzy would ask. Bentzy never missed

an opportunity to ask that question, whether it made sense under the circumstances or not. Bentzy had a “magic box” – a Kupat Ha’ir pushka. Every illness and tzarah and problem and complication was resolved with the help of that box. “No, I didn’t contribute,” he’d reply. But why shouldn’t he try? Maybe contributing to Kupat Ha’ir would be his salvation? Shuki withdrew a large bill from his wallet and stuck it into a side pocket of his handbag, setting it aside for tzedakah. Hashem, I contributed to Kupat Ha’ir, he whispered hopefully. Please make the merit of tzedakah protect me, come to my aid… He tried dialing his parents once more, certain that this time, he’d get through and the problem would be resolved. But there was no answer at home, his father didn’t answer his cell phone, and his mother’s was probably not even working. Kupat Ha’ir, where are you? he asked resentfully. How come you only help other people? People rose from their seats, brushed off their

clothes and stood expectantly on the platform. Two minutes to go until the train’s arrival. I’m trying again, Shuki thought o himself, his head nearly bursting from pressure. I’m taking the risk. I contributed to Kupat Ha’ir and it’s time for a yeshuah! He approached the machine, stuck in his card and typed in the numbers. The machine confirmed that a ticket had been ordered. The train pulled into the station with a long whistle. The digital keypad showed four blinking squares. 7604? 6704? 0746? Which should he pick? Please, Hashem, he whispered, typing in four numbers. You don’t stand a chance, a cruel voice inside him taunted. There are so many possibilities. How can you possibly happen to pick the right one? He stared at the screen with mounting tension. The machine confirmed the password and ejected a ticket. Shukui grabbed it and ran. The yeshuah had indeed arrived!

From the words of Maran Hagaon Harav

Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a: Certainly, contributing tzedaka to a worthy cause such as Kupat Ha’ir is a proper form of hishtadlus, which effects many yeshuos to both individuals and the general public. We see many such examples in Tanach and Chazal. Of course, the intention is not that whoever gives tzedaka will certainly be helped; sometimes, there are certain other factors that hold back a yeshua. The intention of the Tanach and Chazal is that the merit of giving tzedakah to the poor is very powerful indeed, and that this is a suitable and proper form of hishtadlus. In the name of Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, Eliyahu Mann

Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit"a, saw and approved this massage.

page 23 story supplement PESACH 5768

The Tzedakah Of The Gedolei Hador


Kupat Home of Ha’ir Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum Ztl 4415 14th 1795Ave. East 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219 Brooklyn, N.Y. 11223

page 24 story supplement PESACH 5768

non profit org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT #1369 Carol Stream, IL

Yeshuos Pessach 5768  

The stories in this brochure were all related by trustworthy people who experienced them firsthand

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