YESHUOS PURIM 5770
missed the critical turn to Rechovot. Now he was on the highway until he’d be able to turn around and travel back a considerable distance.
snaked behind them. There was no way out now. “Daven, kinderlach,” he urged. His wife sat in stony silence. No one will be able to understand the yissurim of these moments, she thought to herself. There’s no question we deserve these yissurim but surely we’ve already received half our punishment. They continued crawling forward. Time was flying; they were crawling. How do you make Shabbos on the road? What would they do about a sukkah? And Shabbos! Shabbos without candles, or challos, or anything! They’d sleep in the car and daven on the road. They had little children, babies. How would they manage? “Let’s promise a contribution to Kupat Ha’ir,” his wife whispered. “What should we promise? We’ll contribute if what? If the sun stands still in the sky? We’re not on the level of Yehoshua bin Nun, not even if we contribute to Kupat Ha’ir.” “We’ll contribute if we reach a good place before sundown, somewhere where we can spend Shabbos and Yom Tov in a reasonable manner.” “Okay.” They were still crawling. Sometimes they moved ahead a little bit faster, sometimes a little bit slower. The contribution remained hanging in the air. She insisted on committing to a specific amount. He gave his confirmation. Anything, if only we make it. Please, make the car sprout wings. Make us kefitzas haderech. Make the sun stand still. Whatever. Just make us arrive in time. With him in the car was all the money he had earned selling arba’ah minim. It was his family’s livelihood for the entire year. They couldn’t leave all that money in the car and walk to a nearby neighborhood! They had to reach a safe place where they could leave the money. He was so preoccupied with these thoughts that he page 10 story supplement PURIM 5770
A glance at his watch made it clear that the game was up. There was no chance. They reached the sand dunes at the entrance to Ashdod. There was sand to their right and sand to their left. Hills of yellow sand, turning golden in the light of the setting sun. Sand, sand and more sand. They’d have to spend Shabbos in the desert, like Rav Ariel from the well-known story. Shabbos against the backdrop of the sand dunes, without even a tree for shade. There were cars in front of them and cars behind them. He was reminded of a dove fleeing from a hawk, a snake in front of it and a hawk behind it. All the poor dove could do was flap its wings in hope that the owner of the dovecote would save it. How much did you contribute? The question came from deep inside him. He was the father of this family. They were his responsibility and he had gotten them into this trouble. His wife said not a word about the dozens of phone calls she’d made before Shabbos, urging him to come home already. He was suffering enough, more than enough. Where was the contribution? Hadn’t it succeeded in piercing the gates of heaven? Even the contribution didn’t help, she thought to herself dismally. Hashem doesn’t want the tzedakos of Yidden who set out on the road when there’s a good chance they won’t make it before Shabbos. The children didn’t say a word about not wanting to spend Shabbos in a distant neighborhood, far from Saba and Savta. They sensed the terrible tension in the car and were obedient as lambs. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, there was a junction. The sign read Bnei Darom – right and Hesder Yeshiva “Kerem Beyavne” – left. “We’re making a right to Bnei Darom. The hesder yeshivah is probably deserted; the bachurim go home for Yom Tov. We’ll go right. Maybe we’ll find a family to take us in for Yom Tov.” He signaled right. If only those lazy cars would move already so he
could make the turn! To Bnei Darom, to a family with a mezuzah on its doorpost. Maybe there were religious families there, or even chareidi ones. He had no idea. It didn’t matter. The main thing was that there were Jews there. The main thing was that they wouldn’t have to spend Shabbos in the company of the sand dunes of Ashdod. Out of pressure and confusion, he turned left instead of right. When he realized what he’d done, he thought he would faint. Left was the hesder yeshivah. The place was bound to be empty on Sukkos. They no longer had enough time to turn around and get out. What else would happen in the next few minutes? What else? Where to now? The yeshivah courtyard? Should they spend Shabbos there? They lunged forward, burning rubber. Nothing mattered anymore. If the tires wore out, they’d be changed after Shabbos. Now they just had to get somewhere – safely. Just that. “Where’s your contribution?” he hissed. “We keep going from bad to worse.” They arrived at the hesder yeshivah, expecting to find it locked. A Yid came running over to their car. “Bruchim habba’im, brothers! Bruchim habba’im! Quickly, quickly, hadlakas neiros… Stories later. Just get out and bring whatever you need for Shabbos with you!” A woman and a few big girls came to help as well. They took the children and the suitcases. His wife ran to light the candles prepared for her. The baby was placed in a clean crib. The children looked around in disbelief… it was as if they were expected guests! It was only after they had ushered in Shabbos and Yom Tov and were seated in a lovely sukkah that their hosts told them about the guests that had backed out on them at the last minute. “We wanted guests so badly. Yom Tov without guests is not Yom Tov for us,” they said. “Hashem heard our tefillos!” “Did you also contribute to Kupat Ha’ir so that Hashem would send us to you?” the esrog dealer wondered. “There really was no logical chance in the world that we’d end up here!”
“Where did you plan to be for Yom Tov?” “We intended to be in Rechovot, but we left too late and I missed the right turn. Bnei Darom was the closest settlement but I was so disoriented under the pressure that I turned left instead of right.” “Well, you would have found more families in Bnei Darom than over here,” their host said slowly. His eyes took in his guest’s shtreimel and the children’s curly peyos. “But I doubt you would have found even one family there where you would have felt comfortable. I’m not sure they use products with the same hechsherim you trust. Here, at least you can partake of all the seudos without changing any of your customs. Our family uses only products with the most mehudar kosher supervision. What a miracle you came here!” What a miracle… There was no logical way for them to get there. They wanted to go right. How awful they would have felt, imposing on a family unprepared for guests. How unpleasant it would have been for them to avoid eating foods that did not meet their strict standards. Instead, they turned left and appeared, like angels from heaven, at the home of a family who was waiting eagerly for guests, and who was careful to eat only the best hechsherim! “It was worth contributing after all,” he said to his wife with a chuckle. “Tell Kupat Ha’ir that even if you find yourself in a deep pit – it’s still worth contributing. Even if it’s too late to keep yourself from falling, contributing can pad the bottom of the pit and keep your clothes from getting dirty!” Note: Although the people in this story enjoyed a lovely Shabbos and gained wonderful new friends, they will never, ever set out again late on an erev Shabbos or Yom Tov. Their experience was enough to last them a lifetime. Every time they tell their story, they make sure to stress that. With or without a contribution – it is forbidden to depend on miracles. We should learn from other people’s mistakes in order to avoid such experiences, which co uld, G-d forbid, have a different ending – physically or spiritually. page 11 story supplement PURIM 5770
Just Like in the Kupat Ha'ir Stories The situation was very unpleasant, to put it mildly.
time with her family.
All month long she’d been feeling guilty and upset. Every incoming phone call made her simultaneously leap forward and recoil. Every morning she hoped that maybe, maybe today her request would finally be considered. But she’d been completely unprepared for the eventuality that her request would be granted immediately – and she simply wasn’t ready!
In France, the long-awaited trip took center stage in Savta Rina’s life. She spent hours shopping for her granddaughter and her children. Rivka’s taste was very refined, Savta knew, so she chose her gifts with great care. Toys, clothing, decorative knick-knacks for the house – her suitcase grew steadily fuller with each passing day, along with her anticipation and excitement.
Why was it that everything seemed to be going wrong?
In Eretz Yisrael, Rivka drew a large calendar showing the number of days to Savta’s arrival and hung it on the fridge. Every day, the children crossed off another box. Rivka and her husband prepared a beautiful room for Savta to stay in. Rivka cleaned the house as if it was erev Pesach, organizing closets and shining windows and mirrors. She cooked and baked up a storm, filling her freezer with Savta’s favorite foods.
Rivka tried to take stock of the situation and do the best thing possible under the circumstances. She couldn’t allow this opportunity to slip through her fingers. She’d fly to France even if she could only be there for twenty-four hours. But what a shame that would be! It had all begun a few weeks ago. Savta Rina, Rivka’s beloved grandmother, had finally agreed to come visit her in Eretz Yisrael. They hadn’t seen one another for five years. Rivka had given birth to three children in that space of time and Savta had never seen them. All the telephone calls and pictures and letters in the world couldn’t replace a real live meeting. Rivka was Savta’s oldest grandchild and the two shared an exceptionally close relationship. For five years, Rivka had missed her grandmother terribly. Now she was finally going to come spend some page 12 story supplement PURIM 5770
When the big day grew closer, Rivka drew a huge Brucha Haba’ah sign and had the children color it. They blew balloons and decorated the house with bows and flowers. The meeting at the airport was every bit as wonderful as Rivka had imagined it. The two hugged and kissed emotionally. Arriving in Jerusalem, Savta saw every nook and cranny of Rivka’s apartment. Most importantly, she beamed with nachas from Rivka and the children. They talked and laughed and completed each other’s sentences and shared memories and stories. What could be better?
But the idyllic situation did not last long. The following day, the family set out with Savta to the Kosel Hama’aravi. En route, the car smashed into a light pole and shook wildly from side to side. Miraculously, there were no casualties. The passengers, Savta included, suffered only painful bumps and bruises. After spending hours in the emergency room, Savta returned to Rivka’s apartment, limping and in pain. The lovely visit had lost all its charm in one awful moment. Savta had no patience for presents or grandchildren, stories or photos. She wanted to be back home as soon as possible, in her own bed, in her own surroundings, under her doctor’s supervision. The visit was cut short, leaving everyone with a terrible feeling. Rivka was beside herself. Savta boarded the first plane back to France and Rivka, aside from the terrible feeling of unpleasantness, sensed that Savta was annoyed with her. The feeling was more than she could bear. She had asked her boss for permission to take a week-long vacation. She felt she had to fly to France to be with Savta - to go with her to the doctor, pick up her test results, buy her medication, cook and bake for her and most importantly, to just be with her. To somehow make up for the visit gone awry. She owed it to Savta; she had to do it for herself. She could find no rest until she did. But it never occurred to her that she would be granted a vacation “beginning today.” Her passport was no longer valid; it would take a few days for her to arrange all her documents and order a suitable ticket. But in the meantime, her week’s vacation was going to waste! It was impossible to submit another request or ask for a delay. Rivka made a few frantic phone calls to friends who knew the ropes. There was not a chance in the world, she was told, to obtain a passport on the spot at the Jerusalem branch of the Ministry of Interior. The procedure took a few days; if you begged and pleaded or had protektzia – the waiting time might be reduced to 48 or 72 hours.
She had no connections, nor did she know how to plead with strangers. She was too shy; she knew she’d end up stammering and blushing in embarrassment. A different option was to try the Gilo branch of the Ministry of Interior. The branch there was smaller than the one in Jerusalem and sometimes it was easier to shorten the procedure there. Rivka’s friends warned her that the Gilo branch, too, had been getting busier and busier and it was unlikely the staff there would accommodate her request but it was worth a try. Rivka spoke with a travel agent. There was place on a flight to France the following morning. After that there was nothing until the end of the week or the beginning of the following week. Rivka felt a headache coming on. Tomorrow morning would be great. She’d have five days to spend with Savta, which was as it should be. But in order to leave tomorrow, she needed a passport, and time to organize the house, and to find places for the kids to stay, and to pack them, and to pack herself… how do you do all that in twentyfour hours? Worst of all, she still didn’t have a passport! She’d have to spend hours at the Ministry o f Interior and even then, she needed a hefty dose of heavenly mercy to leave with a page 13 story supplement PURIM 5770
passport in hand.
“What do you need there? Maybe I can help.”
She ordered a cab and she and her husband went downstairs with all the documents. Her legs trembled. Miracles happened to other people; she was sure to be disappointed. Oh, Hashem, please.
Rivka’s husband explained that she needed a passport on the spot, right now. “No problem,” the driver said. “Wait a moment and I’ll arrange it.”
Before entering the taxi, she placed some money into the Kupat Ha’ir pushka and whispered a prayer to Hashem that she merit a miracle. She needed a yeshuah like the ones in the Kupat Ha’ir brochures, an instantaneous miracle that was completely illogical. Hashem alone knew how badly she needed this trip. He knew how badly she felt about what had happened to Savta, how disappointed she was that the visit was cut short under such circumstances. He knew how badly she wanted to go to Savta, to appease her, to warm her heart. The driver inquired courteously where they were going. “Gilo,” Rivka’s husband told him. “Where in Gilo?” the driver asked as he began traveling in the right direction. Rivka slapped her forehead. She’d forgotten to s. “We We need the M inistry of verify the exact address. Ministry Interior,” shee said. Surely someone in Gilo Gilo would be able to dire ect them. direct “The Minis stry of Interior in Gilo?” thee driver asked. Ministry
Rivka shrugged inwardly. Sure, the driver could help. Like he was the director of the Ministry of Interior. Right. But when the driver said, “My sister has been working there for seven years now,” her heart leaped with hope. “She always does me favors when I ask her,” the driver added. The driver punched some numbers into his phone and a feminine voice answered. “Are you at work now?” “Yes, why?” “I’m bringing you someone who needs a passport on the spot. You hear? She needs it right now. You’ll do it for me, right? A favor for me, for my client.” Rivka’s eyes widened. She had never seen the driver before. How had she become his client? Why was he doing this for her? And who was the woman on the on the other end of the line? “Okay, I’ll try to arrange it. You know I’d do anything for you.” The conversation was over. The car made its way through the outskirts of Jerusalem to Gilo. “Go straight to my sister,” the driver instructed her. “Her name’s Riki and her booth is first to the right. Tell her I sent you. My name’s Uzi. She’ll know immediately what she has to do.” Rivka and her husband thanked him warmly. They had no idea if their driver’s efforts on their behalf would really bear fruit, but it was nice of him to care. When they pulled over at the Ministry of Interior, the driver offered to wait for them to return. “You want to wait for us?” they asked in surprise. Didn’t the driver know a little bit about how things worked at the Ministry of Interior. Even if
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Uzi’s sister helped them, it would surely be hours before she emerged with a passport. There was certainly no sense in having the taxi wait for them. “Didn’t you plan to take a taxi home?” the driver asked. They nodded. They had a busy day ahead of them; they had to make the most of every moment. “Go on in and ask Riki how long it’ll take for your passport to be ready. If it’s just a few minutes, it’s worth your while. Go on, I’m waiting.” They entered, feeling clearly that someone on High was giving them a hand. A quick glance around made it clear the branch was rather busy. Rivka approached the first clerk on the right and before she even opened her mouth, the woman asked, “Are you the person Uzi sent? Let me see your documents. Everything’s ready; you’ll have your passport in a few minutes. What I wouldn’t do for Uzi. You have no idea how he goes out of his way to help people. All you see is a cab driver with sandals and curly hair. You have no idea that he’s helped thousands of people already. He has a heart of gold. No one can say ‘no’ to him.” Rivka handed her the folder of documents she’d prepared at home. The clerk, ignoring the person she’d been in middle of serving, withdrew the documents she needed, did some typing, signed her name - and before Rivka even had the chance to go out and tell the driver to wait, she was out, passport in hand. Passport in hand! On the same day! Without waiting hours on end! She could make tomorrow morning’s flight and be by Savta the following afternoon. Who would have believed it? Doesn’t this story sound like something straight out of a Kupat Ha’ir brochure?
You’ve come until this point. You’ve recharged your spiritual batteries with emunah, devotion, concern for others, tzedakah and gemilus chassadim. You’ve participated in hair-raising experiences. Now, at this very moment, your own journey to spiritual improvement begins. You are well equipped for the journey. You know which direction to travel in. There’s a goal – and you must make an effort to achieve it. As we told you in the introduction, there’s a reason you received this brochure. It is not for nothing that these stories were collected and printed. Hakadosh Baruch Hu created us and placed us in the very spot He wants us to be, and He makes sure to send us, wherever we may be, everything that we need in order to draw close to Him and achieve our goals. We at Kupat Ha’ir, the place where one event follows another at the speed of light, have already seen it all. Miracles of all types, contributions of all types and the strangest stories. There is just one thing we have never, ever seen here at Kupat Ha’ir: We have never seen anyone give tzedakah and regret it or lose out by it. Such a thing has never happened - and it never will, because we have a G-d-given promise: Tzedakah accomplishes only good. It opens additional channels through which yeshuos can flow; it generates more and more yeshuos – both “regular” and extraordinary, common and rare; and it elevates the contributors, the recipients and the “postmen,” causing them to be better Jews and to make huge strides in effecting the geulah. You’ve joined the trip, and now you have reached the end of the brochure. What will remain of it for you? Only what you set aside from your money, from yourself – to Hashem. May you merit doing only good things!
page 15 story supplement PURIM 5770
American Friends of Kupat Ha’ir Kupat Home of Ha’ir Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum Ztl 4415 14th14th Avenue 4415 1795Ave. East 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY 1121911219 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn, N.Y. 11223
non proﬁt org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT #1369 Carol Stream, IL
KUPAT HA'IR The Tzedakah Of The Gedolei Hador
Table of Contents
To hear the story firsthand call: ...........................................................................011-972-50-4181368
Direct From Shamayim
To hear the story firsthand call: ..........................................................................011-972-2-5377047
Without Getting Dirty
To hear the story firsthand call: .........................................................................011-972-52-7624571
Just Like in the Kupat Ha'ir Stories
One by one, the stories made their way from the places in which they occurred to Kupat Ha’ir. Before we knew it, we had a collection of amazing stories just begging to join together and form a Yeshuos magazine. The moment the decision is made to publish an additional Yeshuos magazine, a palpable sense of anticipation sets in at Kupat Ha’ir. Which stories will make it into the brochure this time? There are thousands of awesome stories filed away in Kupat Ha’ir’s folders. It’s always very difficult to choose: each story seems to beg, “Choose me!” It isn’t easy to prefer one over another. People are different from one another. Everyone is touched by something else; it’s hard to predict which stories will elicit the most feedback. Very often we are in for a surprise: everyone thought Story X would garner the most “rave reviews,” and in the end, a different story took center stage and captured public attention. We at Kupat Ha’ir have learned to allow matters to run their own course. This brochure has made its way to you by special delivery. Why? What is the message it comes to convey? Only you will know the answer to that. It is clear, though, that if it didn’t contain a clear message for you – it wouldn’t have come. Our world is managed down to the tiniest details. If the brochure reached your hands – there’s a message in it for you. Listen closely. Open your heart. Make the purpose for which Hashem sent this brochure to you – come true. May we all merit to do so amidst good health and joy.
American Friends of Kupat Ha'ir
4415 14th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11219
1-866-221-9352 page 2 story supplement PURIM 5770
This story can be heard firsthand between 8:00p.m. -11:00p.m. Israeli time call: 011-972-50-4181368.
“Well, Ernst, what’s happening with the building?” Suzanne’s tone of voice was clearly impatient. How many times could you remind someone, nudge him, plead with him? It was now more than a year that Ernst was saying, “I have a customer but he wants documentation that I don’t have yet.” In the meantime, the building was standing empty. It was such a shame, especially since they could really use the money. “Maybe you should actually do something about the matter instead of just talking about it?” Suzanne asked petulantly. “Go look at the blue folder on my desk,” Ernst retorted angrily. “A million documents, I tell you, a million! And still it’s not enough.” “When something’s important to you, you manage to arrange it overnight. All of a sudden, when it comes to selling this building – your hands are tied. Devote one whole day to getting the matter taken care of and get it over with. There’s a limit how long you can drag out the sale of one building.” “I’ve already devoted lots of time to the matter,” Ernst assured her. “Each time I was sure I had finally arranged what had to be done.” He went to get the blue folder and tossed it to his wife. “Every time I thought I was done, new complications cropped up. It’s like Pharoah’s frog in Mitzrayim. You deal it a strong blow but instead of dying, a whole bunch of new frogs are created. It’s incredible. French law is unbelievably strict with these matters. The clerks who issue the necessary licenses must have undergone thorough training courses in how to suck the blood of people who need their help. There’s no other explanation.”
Suzanne shrugged unhappily. Documents and more documents. What was the big deal? Every day, thousands of buildings were sold in France and a thousand new ones were put up for sale in their stead. Real estate offices did a brisk business and huge real estate deals were clinched every day. Why did only their building have to encounter so much trouble? Why did only their building have to suffer from the
idiosyncrasies of French law? “Does five hundred thousand dollars mean so little to you?” “Does my office mean so little to you? Do you want me to sacrifice my office for the sake of this building?” Suzanne said nothing but her facial expression made it clear she felt that if she were the one running the show, everything would be different. In the end, however, even Suzanne gave up in despair. In France, as anywhere else, no intelligent buyer would purchase a building without valid deed documentation. But unlike in many other countries, the French government refuses to grant documentation for a building that differs even slightly from the original plans. Even minor internal changes invalidate the building for authorization. In this case, the building, which she had received as an inheritance from her dearly departed parents, of blessed memory, had undergone various changes. The building had four stories, each of which had two apartments in which various tenants had lived over a period of many years. Each tenant had made changes in accordance with their needs. Now, returning the building to its original state was proving to be very complicated. At first, Ernst had thought that cosmetic changes would be sufficient. He quickly arranged for page 4 story supplement PURIM 5770
these changes to be made and requested the necessary documentation from the recorder of deeds. But the documentation was not provided, although a sharp reprimand was. Ernst hired a contractor to rip down walls and build new ones in accordance with the original plans, but it hadn’t occurred to him that the electrical system would have to work in accordance with the changes. His request was denied for the second time. This time, he hired a professional whose field of expertise was preparing buildings so that they would be eligible for government approval. He did everything exactly according to instructions but he soon learned that he still had a long way to go. Approval for electricity, approval for gas, approval for the heating system and approval for appraisal. Approval for the engineering, approval from the municipality regarding the payment of old debts… every day there were new demands. “I can’t handle it anymore,” Ernst said to his wife. “Would you like to try?” Suzanne agreed to try. She couldn’t stand the foot-dragging any longer. Every day Ernst told her that he was about to obtain all the necessary documentation and then they’d be able to sell the building for an excellent price. She was afraid that the building would earn a reputation as “problematic” and then no one would want it. Bracing herself for a long haul, Suzanne accepted responsibility for the project. She cleared her busy schedule and began running around from one office to another. She spoke to city clerks, government clerks, real estate advisors and even a private attorney whose signature she hoped would speed things up. Wherever she went, everyone promised to help. Wherever she went, she had to sign documents for which no one seemed to understand the purpose. She dealt with vociferous arguments and carefully collected document after document. After a while, she began to fear she would go mad. “I made lots of progress,” she old Ernst one evening,
exhausted after a particularly hard day. “I’ve definitely furthered our cause. But I’m beat. I can’t deal with it anymore. Now let’s see you have a go at it again.” Ernst had no choice but to accept responsibility for the project once again. Negotiations began anew. He sat in the offices of lazy clerks and waited in long lines. He missed days of work and received endless aggravation. Every time he received an important document, he was informed of a number of new rules and regulations stipulating the need for yet more paperwork. He felt he was on the brink of insanity. “I can’t go on with this anymore,” he told Suzanne. “There is no end to this! My business is suffering. I’ve wasted so much time and energy only to receive another list of documentation I need to provide. I don’t intend to even bother any more. Forget about it.” “But we’re talking about five hundred thousand dollars!” “No,” he said, wearily. “We’re talking about chasing a mirage. Just pretend we don’t own a building.” “Is there really no way?” “Well, maybe, but it’s a long, tough, twisting way and I’ve walked it long enough. I’m sick and tired of it already.” Suzanne fell silent and swallowed a huge lump of disappointment in her throat. Ernst said nothing. He, too, longed to see the building sold already. He, too, wanted the income his wife’s parents had left them. But what more could he do? He had done everything that could be done al pi derech hateva. Al pi derech hateva. The words buzzed in his ears. He had tried everything al pi derech hateva but there was something he could do that went beyond teva. “You know what, Suzanne?” he said. “If the matter is resolved to our satisfaction within a short while, I’ll give the ma’aser from the sale to Kupat Ha’ir. Maybe the cries of the poor people in Eretz Yisrael will move things along in Shamayim and Hashem will hear their prayers. We, apparently, don’t deserve
special siyatta dishmaya, but they do.” “Ma’aser to Kupat Ha’ir. That means…” “It means fifty thousand dollars. That’s a nice sum, isn’t it?” “Should I call and tell them our decision so that they’ll try extra-hard for us?” “What do you think, they have an office in heaven where they’ll give you protektzia? It doesn’t work that way.” “Stop being so cynical. I meant to ask them to submit our names to the rabbanim to ask them to daven for us at Amukah or the Kosel or I-don’tknow-where, somewhere auspicious for parnassah matters – I’m sure there is some such place. That’s what I meant.” “You can call if you like, if it makes you feel better. Personally, I think the merit of tzedakah is enough, but however you see fit.” “Okay, I’ll call. Let’s see what they can do for us.” She didn’t even have a chance to make the phone call before the matter was resolved. Less than 24 hours later, there was a knock at their door and the long-awaited document arrived by registered mail. There was no mention of documents not yet signed. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Twentyfour hours! “If only I had known” Ernst said in frustration. “If only I had known! Why did I have to go through the nerve-wracking experience of trying to arrange everything myself? I could have promised the money right away and saved myself hundreds of hours of fruitless running around. Why was I so foolish?” “So that you would know to appreciate the greatness of the miracle,” Suzanne replied, utterly delighted. “If we hadn’t gone through what we did – how would we have known how special it is? We thought getting government approval would be simple. Now, after the endless runaround we endured, we understand that we merited a true kefitzas haderech miracle.” She’s right, isn’t she? page 5 story supplement PURIM 5770
Direct From Shamayim
To hear the story firsthand after 10:00p.m. call: 011-972-2-5377047 “I want to leave early enough so that we’ll have time to eat the seudas hamafsekes in Bnei Brak calmly. There’s enough pressure on erev Yom Kippur as it is; we don’t need to make things worse by running late,” Mrs. L said firmly. “I know I say the same thing every year but this year we’re really going to carry through, with Hashem’s help. We’ll leave early, arrive early and have time to get organized properly. Our entire Yom Tov will be different if we start off the right way.”
and vidui while the little ones did the traditional “Do you forgive me?” routine. As time passed, pressure began to mount. What was happening with the car? How long would they remain stuck inside?
The best laid plans…
They had a cell phone on them, thank G-d. What would they have done in such a situation fifteen years ago?
They did leave early, dressed and ready for the holiest day of the year. They’d remembered everything, from their machzorim to pekelach stuffed with goodies for the little ones. The family who would be hosting them was already setting the table for the seudas hamafsekes. Baruch Hashem, they had managed to be super-organized this year. The tape recorder in the car was playing the traditional Kol Nidrei melody and everyone truly felt the Yom Kippur atmosphere in their heart.
Rabbi L. returned to the car in despair. “I need to call a tow truck. After the car is towed, we’ll try to stop a passing cab. We have no choice. Erev Yom Kippur is no time to try and fix a car.”
But even cell phones are not always the solution. Calls to various companies yielded the same results: no one was working on erev Yom Kippur afternoon. The only time the entire country shuts down, save for crucial emergency services, is Yom Kippur. Businesses close in honor of the holy day the previous afternoon. The L’s tried a few companies as well as private towers, but no one even answered the phone.
But in middle of the way, somewhere between Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak, the car broke down. The exalted atmosphere came to an abrupt end as Rabbi L removed his suit jacket and stepped out of the car to see what the problem was. He tried this and that, a push here and a shove there – nothing. They were stuck.
Time was ticking by. They couldn’t just abandon the car! The children grew impatient. It was almost time for the seudas hamafsekes. What would be?
Faced with no choice, Rabbi L crawled under the car in his Yom Tov clothing to see what was going on there. He opened the hood of the car and poked around a bit. He wasn’t much of a mechanic, but as an experienced driver, he knew a little bit. Nothing. He couldn’t figure out where the problem was. The engine had simply stopped working.
The children stepped out of the car to stretch their limbs. They began running about on the shoulder of the road, terrifying their mother, who got out of the car as well to keep a better eye on them. The sun beat down; there were no trees anywhere in sight. The kids’ black pants turned gray and then white. She bit her lip. Yom Kippur was approaching; some things were more important than clean clothes.
Inside the car, the family did its best to restore the lofty atmosphere. The older ones spoke about teshuvah page 6 story supplement PURIM 5770
They kept trying to come up with additional phone numbers, to no avail. Friends did their best to help as well but no tow company could be found.
The host family sat down to begin the seudah. They
felt bad but there was no point in them being delayed as well. In a weak voice, Mrs. L gave her children permission to eat the nosh bags she’d brought along. It was a mitzvah to eat on erev Yom Kippur, after all… It was a shame she didn’t have anything for the older children. The water bottles they’d taken along for the way had long ago finished. Time continued ticking by and the pressure became unbearable. It was almost Yom Kippur! Yom Kippur! They had no seudas hamafsekes, no minyan, no anything! Was there any chance that what they hadn’t been able to accomplish over the last two hours would suddenly work out? In another few moments, they’d have no choice but to leave the car, bid it goodbye – they’d probably never see it again - and try to hitch rides. Chareidi Yidden were no longer on the road anymore and there was almost no chance anyone would have enough space to transport their entire family. They’d have to send the kids in pairs, or even one by one, with strangers! They’d have to send them to neighborhoods as close to Bnei Brak as possible and hope against hope that there would be enough time to pick them all up and bring them to Bnei Brak before Yom Tov. Ribono shel Olam! It was unthinkable. “Do something, please,” sobbed Mrs. L, who had managed to maintain a calm façade until now. “I’m not sending the kids with strangers, not even if I have to spend Yom Kippur on the road. Maybe we should stop a car to ask for food. Maybe we should call the police!” Real panic set in as she envisioned numerous truly ly awful scenarios. Her husband tried to retain his composure, but he, too, was on thee brink of despair. What else could he do that he hadn’t dn’t yet done?
submitted to the Gedolim immediately. That would be ridiculous! Their contribution raced up to Shamayim, rapped on the Gates of Heaven and pleaded for a yeshuah. Hakadosh Baruch Hu, in His mercy, extended His Hand and the yeshuos began to flow… Not more than three minutes passed before in front of their astonished eyes they saw … a tow truck! A tow truck! Sent directly to them! Direct from Shamayim! “Eliyahu Hanavi!” the children exclaimed. “Eliyahu Hanavi came with a tow truck! Hashem sent us Eliyahu Hanavi!” The tow truck was empty. The driver was on his way to Bat Yam. The scene on the road had caused him to take another glance: a car stopped at an odd angle, chareidi children running about in the sun when it was almost Yom Kippur. Was there a mitzvah he’d never heard of to spend the holy day in a field? Even if so, where was their tent? Where was some basic equipment? At the last possible moment, he saw a hand waving, begging him to stop. He pulled over, never dreaming for a moment that five children – and their parents, too - were sure he was Eliyahu Hanavi disguised as a tow truck driver. “We’re stuck here,” he heard a pleading voice waft all the way up to his driver’s seat. Ten pairs of eyes regarded him with intense curiosity, curiosity stronger even than their distress. Would he help them? Was he Eliyahu Hanavi or just an ordinary tow truck driver? “No, I can’t help you. I’m in a
It was in this situation of near despair that they suddenly remembered Ha’ir. embe em bere red d Kupat Kupa Ku patt Ha Ha’i ir. The T he tho tthought houg ught ht was like a beacon con of light. With great kkavanah, h the th entire ti family decided ed on a sum of money and Rabbi abbi L called Kupat Ha’ir. They didn’t where they dn’tt ssay dn ay w whe here re tthe heyy were. They didn’t dn’t demand that their names be page pa p ag a ge 7 story story s oryy supplement sup su pp eme ppl ement ntt PURIM PU PUR U IM IM 5770
rush. I’ll ask my friend…” But the friend didn’t answer his phone call, nor did another friend or the friend of a friend or even a tow company that the driver was sure would be open. The driver knew a thing or two about cars. He leaped out of the tow truck and began tinkering with the car’s innards. After a few minutes, though, he shrugged. He couldn’t help them.
Not another second was wasted. They reached their destination accompanied by the shocked stares of the few pedestrians on the street. The cables were released, the car was lowered to the street and the family burst out. “How much do I owe you?” Rabbi L asked. “Of course, monetary payment is just a token of our boundless gratitude!”
“Eliyahu Hanavi with a bare head?” one child whispered, his eyes wide. “How could it be?”
“It’s erev Yom Kippur today… give me three hundred shekels. You got away cheap.”
“Stop being so silly,” his sister whispered in annoyance. “He doesn’t have to be Eliyahu Hanavi; he’s just Hashem’s messenger, sent to us in the merit of our contribution to Kupat Ha’ir. Why did he merit being Hashem’s messenger? I don’t know. There must be some reason that we don’t understand.” She had no idea how right she was.
Rabbi L breathed a sigh of relief. He’d been sure the driver would charge him an arm and a leg. He hadn’t dreamed of less than two or three thousand shekels. Even the “going rate” of a thousand to fifteen hundred shekels would have been hard for him to pay. His family lived frugally; every shekel was precious. The unexpected outlay had been causing him untold worry. Three hundred shekels! He really was getting away cheap.
“I have to get to Bat Yam,” the driver said hesitantly, scratching his head in confusion. The family’s sense of hysteria was beginning to affect him as well. “It’s so late already. You want me to stop off in Bnei Brak first? But I don’t have room for all of you in any case. I can fit two people at most into the car and the little ones certainly can’t ride with me. You want to send the big kids with me while you stay here with the little ones?” They didn’t know what to say. They merely looked at the sun with fear in their eyes. “It’s erev Yom Kippur,” the driver said suddenly. “I’m a Jew, too. Let’s go. The two big ones – next to me. The rest of you – back into the car. I’m going to lift it up with you inside it and take you to Bnei Brak. But get moving: I still have to make it to Bat Yam before sundown.” They did as he said. The driver expertly attached the cables and the car ascended onto the special ramp. The driver secured the car and they were off. The whiny children sat up straight, beaming with excitement. They were living the ultimate adventure. The tow truck sped through the nearly empty roads. The family kept its eye on the clock. Let’s just get there already. Let’s have a chance to eat something for the seudah hamafsekes. Let’s enter the holy day with some measure of yishuv hada’as. page 8 story supplement PURIM 5770
His heart sang. Hakadosh Baruch Hu had appeared to them on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and sent them a good messenger. He’d accompanied them all the way here and He would certainly be with them as they prayed for a good, blessed year. If they still had any doubts, they were completely expelled by the phone call Rabbi L made after Yom Tov, which shed new light on the entire story. Two days after Yom Kippur, Rabbi L phoned the tow truck driver to thank him once again. After he detailed his gratitude and that of his wife and children and wished him all the blessings in the world, the driver said thoughtfully: “You know something? It’s a good thing I met you. My tefillin have been pasul for half a year now. I don’t know… I don’t live in a chareidi neighborhood and I’m very busy… I just never took the time to take care of it. I didn’t want to give them to just anyone. You know, a dishonest person might take the expensive pair of tefillin I received from my father, of blessed memory, and replace them with photocopied papers. But it’s a shame because I donned tefillin every day since my bar mitzvah until they became pasul. You seem like a responsible and trustworthy fellow. How about I bring you my tefillin and you take care of the matter for me?”
Without Getting Dirty
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Looking back, they can’t understand how they behaved as they did. True, it was erev Sukkos, the “hot season” for the sale of arba’ah minim, the source of his livelihood for the entire year. Every customer was important. Every Yid who stopped to survey his merchandise was potential parnassah; every hadas sold meant bread for the children. As soon as Sukkos was ushered in, his window of opportunity would close for the entire year. And true, his wife had called over and over and over again, as if possessed. At first, she merely pointed out that it was late. Then she expressed her annoyance that he wasn’t home yet. A few minutes later she called again to beg him to please come home already! In the next phone call, she shouted that it was almost Yom Tov. Five minutes later, she informed him that in another moment, she and the children would unpack the suitcases and start cooking like mad. Two minutes after that, she wailed that even if he came home now, it was too late to travel. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” he told her. “Wait downstairs for me with all the suitcases.” In the end, it was only after he sped to his house, picked everyone up and sped out of the city that he actually checked his watch. A wave of fear overtook him. It was very close to candle-lighting time. Too close. Soon they would be brushing with the danger of being mechalel Shabbos and Yom Tov. He sped like a demon, pressing on the gas pedal with all his might. His wife was trembling with fear; the children sat in terrified silence. He gripped the steering wheel tightly with intense concentration, aware that he dared not miss even a fraction of a
second. Nor could he place his family in danger. The roads were nearly empty. He flew like the wind, his heart pounding as each additional second ticked by. The trip from Bnei Brak to Rechovot, when the roads are clear, takes approximately twenty-five minutes. If there were no mishaps along the way, they would make it by the skin of their teeth, moments before hadlakas neiros. “Say Tehillim,” he told his family in desperation. His eyes darted between the road in front of him – please, Hashem, no police now - and quick glances at his family, sitting white-faced in the back, through the side-view mirror. He didn’t stop berating himself for the delay he could have avoided, for his lack of responsibility in setting out so late, for not having made an about face and returning to Bnei Brak, no matter what. Now the distance between the two cities was just about even in any case. He might as well forge ahead. After Yom Tov, we’ll have to accept upon ourselves a good kabbalah, he thought to himself. Something instead of a korban. Traveling like this is inexcusable. Even if everything ends well, we’ll still be guilty of behaving improperly. Another turn - and a big traffic jam unfolded before their eyes. A traffic jam – now?! Words cannot describe the helplessness and despair the family felt. A traffic jam meant a delay. Every delay – even one of five seconds – meant lighting candles that much later. But they had to get to Rechovot before sundown; otherwise they’d be left stranded on the road! Traffic inched forward slowly. The possibility of turning back and driving to the closest settlement dawned on them too late. Already a long line of cars page 9 story supplement PURIM 5770