YESHUOS ELLUL 5768
STORY SUPPLEMENT KUPAT HAIR
Back to the Roots stories told by Rebbetzin Kanievsky
Table of Contents
The Winning Ten Thousand Shekel
Back to the Living
As told by the Gabai Tzedakah of Tifrach Tel: 011-972-52-7647225
לעילוי נשמת הרב הנגיד בן ציון דונר זצ“ל
Back to the Roots
Four Minutes to go…
Without an Identity
As told by Rebbetzen Kanievsky Tel: 011-972-1599-59-4747
To hear the story firsthand Tel: 011-972-50-411-2436
To hear the story firsthand Tel: 718-930-3780
To hear the story firsthand by Harav D. C Tel: 011-972-3-618-0068
Written and edited by: C. Levinson Published by: Kupat Ha’ir American Friends of Kupat Ha'ir
4415 14th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11219
Yeshuos…. Dear Readers, Introduction It is with deep feelings of gratitude to Hashem that we send this pamphlet to print. Previous pamphlets that portrayed stories of yeshuos made a great impact on its readers and served to strengthen their emunah. Perhaps even more powerful than lessons in mussar and bitachon, these reallife stories provide clear proof that our merciful Father in Heaven cares deeply for us, His children. Today’s orphaned generation has seen time and again that it is only Hashem’s Will that has the power to change things, and that it is He who is running the world and directing its course. The greatness of Kupat Ha’ir further attests to this belief; as there is not one who would turn to our fund thinking that we are the ones who could actually change the situation; rather, donating to Kupat Ha’ir is a way of awakening Heavenly mercy and drawing to us Hashem’s kindness by unlocking gates and dismantling barriers keeping us apart from Him. The joint power of the heartfelt tefillos and the donation itself is what affects the yeshuah. The stories told in this latest pamphlet are all true. Throughout the years Kupat Ha’ir has amassed hundreds of such stories yet only several have been published thus far. As you take the time now to read the stories in this pamphlet, prepare yourself to experience the events as they happened and sense the magnitude of a yeshuah.
The Winning Ten Thousand Shekel As told by the Gabai Tzedakah of Tifrach Tel: 011-972-52-7647225
It was a week laden with feelings of appreciation and thankfulness to Hashem. Marrying off a son required remembering thousands of tiny details, myriad emotions and an aura of ambience that one doesn’t merit to experience all that often. Rabbi Daniel Praga of Tifrach and his wife, along with their four children were on their way home from Yerushalayim one evening from the sheva brachos, chattering lively about the pleasant evening they had just experienced. The hour was late and they were spent, but the excitement from all the celebrations won over the tiredness. It was a long ride and Rabbi Daniel drove carefully. Soon the passing scenery became more and more familiar as they neared their city. “Finally,” his wife said with a relieved sigh. Tifrach was already visible in the distance and she was glad to be close to home. “Baruch Hashem,” said her husband. “I was actually quite anxious about driving such a long way while so tired. Baruch Hashem that….” And the car skidded straight into a brick wall. Shards of glass went flying in all directions as the car turned over along with all its passengers. B’chasdei Hashem the car coming up from behind belonged to a Hatzolah volunteer who saw the accident take place right before his eyes. His brakes screeched to a halt and he jumped out even before the car had completely stopped. Using superhuman strength he began extricating the wounded from the car, while at the same time summoning additional volunteers to the scene. He noticed flames coming out of the seats’ upholstery and knew that they were
in great danger of the gas tank exploding and the entire car going up in flames. Working quickly, he extricated one child after the other. Four children. He managed to check their pulse and was relieved when he found it. He did not yet have the time to asses their exact condition. He tore the front door out and made way for the horror-struck mother to make her way out. He turned to see what was happening with the driver, who was the most seriously wounded. Proceeding with great caution so as not to make the situation even worse, he pulled him out to the side of the road. A fraction of a second passed and suddenly a huge blast was heard. Small clumps of ash flew in all directions, remnants of what was once the family’s car. It was soon confirmed that Rabbi Daniel was in critical condition. One of the children was terribly wounded, while it seemed as if the others would make it. From a distance they could hear the wailing of sirens coming closer. The entire family was evacuated to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva. The Trauma Unit was informed and they prepared to receive the wounded. A team of doctors worked tirelessly to stabilize the condition of both father and son. The others received intensive treatment in the hospital’s emergency room. The same Hatzolah volunteer who had witnessed the accident stayed with them the entire time. He even informed the members of their extended family in Tifrach of the accident. Within no time they too arrived at the hospital, looking dismayed and concerned.
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“What’s happening with the father?” the doctors echoed their questions, hesitant to reveal the facts. “He suffered a severe blow to his head.” It was no easy task revealing this information, especially when the entire family had just undergone severe trauma. “His head was fractured; his brain received a difficult blow. He has no chance,” the doctor said as a heartrending sigh escaped his throat. An entire world turned upside down in less than a moment. “And the son?” “Fifty fifty chance,” he said soberly. “Either he’ll make it or he won’t.” The grim prognosis caused their hearts to tremor. They willed their minds to stop thinking, to block out the dismal news they had just received. Even the tears had dried up. Several unbearable hours crawled by. The father was transferred to intensive care. Dr. Klein, the head of the unit, was not a man of words. He shook his head sadly and pointed with his finger heavenward. “But what are the chances?” one of the brother’s in law begged. “You’ve been a doctor in this unit for years. You’ve treated so many patients. Can’t you tell us anything?” The doctor was hesitant with his reply. How could he possibly relay the truth, which would no doubt be a terrible blow to the family? No person is strong enough to hear such awful news… “His brain is completely erased. Ninety nine percent he won’t sustain his injuries, probably not even for a few hours. And even if he does manage to hold on, he won’t ever be a person again,” the doctor said in an expressionless tone. “Haven’t you ever had a patient who managed to survive despite the odds against him?” The brother in law’s eyes were hanging onto the doctor, as if life and death itself was dependant on the answer to this question. “Oh I did,” replied the doctor. “Maybe one or two. They were completely disabled, both physically and mentally. Like I already told you – his brain is erased. The accident destroyed him.” There was silence between them for a moment and then the brother in law said, “I’ll go check up on the child. And on the others…” Then he remembered the mother. “What will I tell page 4 story supplement
his wife? What will I tell her? What will I tell her?” “I suggest you stay here,” the doctor advised. “Wouldn’t you want to be here when… when it happened? the others are not here, stay here for now.” He tried taking a deep breath, but there was no air to breathe. A lump formed in his throat, choking him. The hospital walls felt as if they were caving in on him. His head was throbbing unbearably – the doctor’s words took over his mind, giving him no rest. Wouldn’t you want to be here when…. Stay here for now… He had no experience in dealing with such situations. What was he supposed to do when it happened? How would he handle the mother and children? Should he summon a minyan? Should he try to get hold of a siddur and say viduy and shema near his brother in law? What was he supposed to do now? He heeded the doctor’s suggestion and stayed. With nearly complete blindness he managed to dial the numbers of some friends from Tifrach. “The situation is hopeless,” he informed them. “Storm the Heavens with your tefillos. We must at least try to change the decree.” They promised to inform the cheder to have the children recite tehillim. He wondered if they would make it in time, or if his next phone call to them would stop them in their tracks. The news spread like wildfire throughout the small settlement. The terrible story went from house to house and the hearts of the people who heard it were gripped with mercy and pain. They opened their tehillims and began reciting, wetting the pages with their tears. It was a small settlement, the people there were like one big family. A certain Rebbetzin Piltz heard the terrifying news and her heart refused to digest the magnitude of the tragedy. “What could possibly help him now? What can we do for him? Say tehillim, daven, do teshuvah, and…. tzedakah!” In a flash she remembered the pamphlet distributed by Kupat Ha’ir that had depicted stories of yeshuos that occurred to people who donated to the fund. She recalled the story of someone who had donated $2000 on behalf of her unconscious brother and received a brachah from Maran Hagaon Reb Chaim Kanievsky. Her brother survived, despite all the odds…
The Rebbetzin felt renewed with hope. We can do something! There is hope for his survival! She dialed the number to Kupat Ha’ir and pledged the sum of ten thousand shekel as a zechus for the refuah of Refael Daniel Yaakov ben Dorah. “Please give his name to Rav Kanievsky,” she implored the receptionist. “His condition is terrible!” In the minutes that followed more and more people kept calling in with the same name and pledging a donation. All the receptionists realized that his condition must be real bad. They too added their tefillos. A special messenger was sent to the home of the Rav. “Rebbetzin Piltz from Tifrach donated ten thousand shekel to Kupat Ha’ir,” he said in awe and respect. “For the refuah of an avreich who was critically wounded in a car accident – Refael Daniel Yaakov ben Dorah. Many people from Tifrach have donated big amounts, they keep calling in to the fund one after the next. Can the Rav please daven for him right now? Soon it might be too late!” As the Gaon listened to the messenger his eyes filled with a deep sadness. An avreich in such a grave situation! “We should hear besoros tovos,” he said, before turning to daven. Was that a brachah? A promise? A prophecy? No one knew. In Tifrach perakim of tehillim continued pouring out along with their tears, while in Soroka the doctors fought valiantly to prevent his soul from escaping his body. And in the office of Kupat Ha’ir the donations were coming in along with requests to give the name over to the Rabbanim.
The day passed. The boy’s condition improved slightly. The other family members were released one after the other. The father remained in critical condition. Another day passed, then another, and another. The days turned into a week, and then into two. The boy recovered completely and was released. No change however was noted in the father’s condition. Six weeks passed since the accident. Six whole weeks. The chances for his survival were diminishing with each passing day. And then one morning he opened his eyes – a step which was later noted as the first towards a complete, astounding recovery! Today Reb Daniel walks around as if nothing has ever happened. He has since returned to kollel, to his full, demanding schedule. He made a seudas hodaya at which he related his incredible story. While he still has some remaining scars, relatively small reminders of the accident, he is functioning like any other individual. The doctors were convinced that his mind was erased. Hardly. Other than the empty space in the parking lot, there is no sign of the tragedy that had taken place... Each time Rabbi Daniel leaves and then returns to Tifrach, he offers up a prayer of thanks for the tremendous miracle that took place for him at the city’s entrance. Like magnet, his eyes are drawn to the brick wall, where nothing more than some smoke stains are visible. The Rebbetzin’s ten thousand shekel surely helped to win over the decree…
Back to the Living
לעילוי נשמת הרב הנגיד בן ציון דינר זצ“ל
“I was a good boy, but had absolutely no connection to learning,” Shuki relates by way of introduction. “There was a lot keeping me occupied – friends, trips, gossip and the like. I did not miss a single event, no matter what it was. I knew everyone, and they all knew me. Only learning never interested me. They gave up on me already in yeshivah ketanah and just let me be. It made no difference if I attended classes or not. I hardly knew which sugya my classmates were learning.” Today this Shuki is an avreich whose head is completely engrossed in Abaye and Rava. He already has a son of his own for whom he expresses the most heartfelt tefillos. “May he grow up to be a talmid chachom,” he whispers each night as tears stream down his face. Meeting Shuki, one would never fathom that just a few light years back, he and learning were like two parallel lines that had no hope of ever crossing paths. “When the time came for me to register to yeshivah, I did not begin to think that I had a problem or that there was a chance that I would not be accepted. My six older brothers had learned in Tschebin, in Yerushalayim. I had no doubt that I would, too. I blithely sent in my application and two weeks later page 6 story supplement
called to inquire about the reply. “‘You’re not accepted,’ the secretary answered in an official voice. “What?’ I asked. “It can’t be. It must be a mistake. Please double-check. “I tried getting hold of my father while I waited for the secretary, but in no time I had been transferred to someone else on the registration staff. ‘It’s no mistake,’ he said. ‘The hanhala has rejected your application. Let’s put it this way: you’re not much of a learner, right? Our yeshivah accepts good learners only.’ “He spoke in a calm, quiet tone, yet nevertheless his words landed on my head like a pounding hammer. “I dropped onto the nearest chair, hoping my conversation with the secretary had been nothing more than a wild dream. But it wasn’t, and I was forced to face the facts. The yeshivah was not even giving me a chance. I wasn’t even allowed to take the acceptance test! What would I do? Begin working at barely seventeen? With what? In just a few short minutes my entire world had come crashing down! “My father wasted no time. He got up and left to Yerushalayim. He spoke, he reasoned, he cajoled
– with each member of the board separately. He returned late that evening, looking exhausted and worn out. The reflection in his eyes was one of acute disappointment, and it pained me deeply. It was a far cry from the expression of fatherly pride that was obvious when he gazed upon my brothers as they swayed over their gemaras. Those same eyes that usually bespoke nachas and pleasure were now filled with dejection and frustration. “My father looked at me and said, ‘It is only because your brothers are one of the strongest boys in the yeshivah, and those who graduated left a wonderful name behind them, that they agreed to allow you to take the test. But if you won’t succeed, you have zero chance of being accepted. We’ll have to find you another yeshivah.’ “Yet I knew all to well, as did my father, that I did not have much of a chance of succeeding. It was impossible to fill such a huge void in a few days, as great as my desire was. “I’m not going to any other yeshivah,” I said, trying to contain the tears that were threatening to spill over. “You can forget about it right now. It’s either Tschebin or I’m out. There is no third option.” “My parents did not doubt that I was serious. I was all too famous for sticking to my convictions. In the days that followed I roamed around like a caged lion. I kept picturing myself becoming a serious scholar and reaching great heights in Torah. Yet at the same time gloomy thoughts kept creeping into my head and I saw myself becoming the yeshivah handyman, the delivery guy - someone whose day ended at the exact point where it started. My thoughts even ventured to race further to when I was older and left the Torah world completely, thereby severing any remaining link to learning, to yeshivah, to Torah. Surprisingly enough, I felt distinctly uncomfortable with myself as I imagined my bleak future. In my parents’ house Torah was the very air which we breathed. We lived it and spoke about it night and day. To leave me outside was like cutting off the very branch I was sitting on. “My thoughts turned to my mother, huddled over her tehillim, shedding heartrending tears. My father, distressed and frightened. I made my way to the yeshivah to take the test, my heart trembling inside of me. I was not naïve and knew all too well what
happened to those who left learning at such a young age. I shuddered as I realized to which side the scale was about to tip. I sat over the test papers and was barely able to figure out any of the answers. Although I had tried studying in the final days prior to the test, all the material I had crammed now literally flew out of my head. It was belittling and embarrassing and indescribably frustrating. I came back home, my mood downcast, and refused to speak to anyone. “’Shuki, we’ll try another yeshivah.’ My mother cried, my father was very obviously angry and my brothers tried to persuade me. “Try,” I said, “but I’m not going to any other yeshivah. You’ll be working hard for nothing.” “I knew that it wouldn’t be so simple to get me into another yeshivah, especially once the word spread that the yeshivah where six of my brothers learned refused to accept me. “Try finding me work instead,” I said meaning every word. But it only led to a fresh outburst of arguments and fights. This time the volume increased, the pain and bitterness intensified. Throughout that entire difficult period my father found it impossible to learn, and his work – he dealt with Sta”M – fell behind. Even my mother, who was famous for preparing delectable meals, produced tasteless foods. I even noticed that she hardly left the house. My brothers suddenly began calling each evening, and I felt my temper rising every time the page 7 story supplement
phone rang. I was mad at them, and then mad at myself for getting mad. Anything that anyone did or didn’t do somehow managed to infuriate me.” We listeners commiserated deeply with Shuki as he described in detail how tough his situation was at the time. His father’s heartache and obvious disappointment touched him to the very core. His mothers never ending tears tore his heart to shreds. He was actually a fine, mature young man but for some reason did not realize the extent of the severity of the situation he was placing himself into with his very own hands. “I was willing to give everything at my disposal, only to be granted a chance. I would agree to learn with a private tutor, commit myself to sit over the seforim the entire day and put my heart and soul into succeeding in learning. But only in Tschebin. The facts were clear. It was either Tschebin or work. In a yeshivah framework or out. There was nothing that could convince me to consider other options. “And then one day, which in hindsight turned out to be the catalyst for what was to come, a Kupat Ha’ir pamphlet managed to find its way into our home. This took place several years back and in those days these pamphlets were not popular. People simply did not believe in their authenticity. Perhaps my younger sister brought it in to cut out the colorful illustrations. Whatever the reason the pamphlet was sitting near my father who
was trying to nap on the couch. He kept dozing on and off until he finally noticed the pamphlet and began reading it. “From one minute to the next the expression on his face became more and more alive. ‘Come here, Shuki’” he said finally. As I approached he handed me the pamphlet. ‘Read this page,’ he said. I read the page. “What of it,” I asked in a toneless voice. A baby who was saved from choking, a man who sold his house, some woman who found a job. Who was interested in other people’s issues now? ‘Did you realize in what way each of these people found a solution to their problems?” he asked. “You really believe in these things?” I answered with a question. “My father rose from his place. ‘At this point I have nothing to lose,” he said as I watched him take out one thousand eight hundred shekel from his wallet. We were far from rich and the amount seemed astronomical to me. My father handed me the money and said, ‘Take it to the rav in our neighborhood who accepts donations on behalf of Kupat Ha’ir. Daven to Hashem to send you, and us, a yeshuah and that Tschebin should accept you.’ “I immediately complied and walked over to the rav’s house slowly, hesitantly. I davened without moving my lips but with many, many words, as I felt the tremor of my heart inside of me. I promised Hashem that I would begin taking learning seriously and make an effort to connect myself to Torah if only I would be given a chance. As I walked back into the house my mind was still absorbed in intense tefillah. My father appeared to be ready to leave the house. “‘Come, Shuki,’ he said. ‘I want you to accompany me to the
kever of the Rav of Tschebin on Har HaMenuchos. Let’s pour our hearts out at his kever and implore Hashem for mercy.’ “‘What” I asked, unable to believe what I was hearing. ‘Yes,’ my father confirmed. ‘We’re going up to Har HaMenuchos. The idea came to me when you left to the rav. Let’s go.’ “And with that we left. It was mid-summer and the cemetery was bathed by the burning sun. My father stood near the kever and said tehillim, tears streaming down his face. I stood to his side, confused. My lips too said tehillim but I found it hard to concentrate. I surveyed my surroundings. A few meters away, near the kever of the Admor of Belz, stood a young, man, sporting a short jacket and bent down hat. I noticed he was looking at us, and I averted my gaze. I resumed my davening, hoping fervently for my tefillos to be accepted, yet at the same time braced myself for the impending disappointment. I knew that I had no chance of being accepted. “As my father’s tears flooded the kever, I tried concentrating on davening. I knew that my father had a lot of hope pinned on me, his ben zekunim. All my brothers were outstanding avreichim and bachurim who brought him untold pride. Would I, his youngest, turn out to be nothing more than a simple am ha’aretz? My heart broke as I watched him crying as if there was someone sick in our family, or worse, as if someone had died. But I had reached the point of despair. My father’s sobs were in vain. I was a hopeless case. “At some point the man approached us. “‘Can I perhaps help you with anything?’ he asked my father gently. My father raised his red, swollen eyes to him. I was so embarrassed! What would my father reply? Would he tell him about his beloved son, yours truly? The man noticed my father hesitating, unsure of what to reply. “‘Hashem doesn’t cause people to meet in such places for no reason,” the man said, as his eyes scanned the entire area. ‘Perhaps I could be of use to you?’ he asked. “My father looked in my direction, and I nodded my consent. Not that it was so comfortable for me, but I felt like I owed it to him to give him this last chance.
My father illustrated the situation to him in a couple of words. “The man turned in my direction. ‘Nu?’ he asked as his eyes bore into mine. ‘Do you really plan to commit yourself to learning? Are you aspiring to become a true talmid chachom?’ I felt as if he was able to read me inside and out. “Yes,” I answered immediately, sounding sure and determined. “I already managed to regret all my wasted years in yeshivah ketanah a thousand times. I would do anything to be able to turn the clock back. I will iy”H do whatever it will take for me to become a serious learner.” ‘Are you sure?’ he asked yet again. ‘Would you be willing to make a promise right here on the holy tziyon of the Rav of Tschebin?’” It was at this point that Shuki paused for a moment. It was obvious that the memories were flooding him. Then he told us that he made a sincere promise on the tziyon of the Rav of Tschebin to give himself over to Torah with all his strength and fervor. The young man was studying him intently throughout the entire time, as if trying to measure how earnest Shuki’s intentions were. “Today is Thursday,’ he said finally. ‘Call the yeshivah on Sunday and designate a date to retake the test. But don’t waste time in the interim,’ he warned. ‘Learn the sugya well and Hashem will help.’ “The man refused to disclose his identity, or even to tell us how he was so sure that the yeshivah would grant me permission to retake the test, which seemed entirely illogical to us. He seemed to be sure of himself, and it looked as if he knew what he was talking about. From our part we were in such despair and wanted more than anything to believe that I would indeed be granted permission to retake the entrance exam. “That Shabbos I delved myself into the Gemara as I had never done before. I was determined to succeed and thus to prove that I was sincere in my promise. But the deeper I dug into the sugya the more I realized that I was missing too much knowledge to retake the exam. On Sunday we called the yeshivah, our hearts swaying between hope and despair. They gave me a date without any to-do. It seemed as if they were actually awaiting my phone call. My father and I were
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shocked. Who was that man? We wondered. How did he have such a strong influence on the hanhalah of the yeshivah? My father was quite familiar with the yeshivah’s policy and the fact that they were allowing me to retake the exam was very uncharacteristic of them. “My ever-optimistic mother insisted that it was a good sign and that I would surely succeed in the test and be accepted to the yeshivah. As for me I was far from optimistic but I put on a hopeful front for her sake. “While I was taking the test I noticed the bochanim looking at me, and then at each other. Their expression spoke louder than words. I felt that I knew more this time than at the first test and I held onto to his hope like a drowning person clutches onto straw. “The next day we were informed that I was accepted for a trial period. The joy among my family members knew no bounds. I locked myself into my room and learned. My father hired a tutor who began teaching me the basics. A new era had begun in my life.” Shuki stopped talking and wiped his perspiring brow. It was hardly a simple feat to relate such as story. But it was obvious from the pure gleam in his eyes that he was now well along the path of becoming a true talmid chachom. “No one ever mentioned a word to me about the fact that I was on trial. I was a talmid like everyone else and it did not seem as if the hanhalah had any regrets about having accepted me. With much siyatta
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diShmaya I studied well and slowly, slowly, managed to delve deep into the sugyos. For the first time in my life I was able to form a connection with learning and actually relish the sweet taste of success. If at first it was to fulfill my promise, soon it became impossible for me to detach myself from learning; I was addicted forever. On the infrequent Shabbosos that I would go home my father would gaze at me with affection as tears filled his eyes. My mother spoiled me to no end. There was no one who felt as fortunate as I did. “All this time I was extremely curious to find out who that man was, that man to whom I now owed my very life. How had he managed to do what he had done? “After some time in the yeshivah I became close to one of the key figures of the staff. When the first opportunity arose I asked him my question. His reply was puzzling. “‘Why did we accept you?” he repeated my question as if the answer couldn’t be more obvious. ‘Did we have a choice? Do you know how much pressure we were under? And maybe we would have been able to withstand the pressure, but when someone from the family of a world renowned Admor told us that you promised to commit yourself to Torah, and asked us to give you another chance, we could hardly refuse him….’” “I was stunned. At a total loss for words. “The name of that Admor was hardly familiar to me. I knew nothing about him and had absolutely no connection to his family. The man that we had met at the cemetery did not look like a chosid - that much was apparent from his way of dress and shaven beard. What did he have to do with that Admor? And what did that same Admor have to do with me? “Maybe you can tell me who was actually the one who
pressured the yeshivah?” I probed further. “At least tell me what his connection is to the Admor!” “For obvious reasons I did not merit an answer. My curiosity burned. There were moments when I felt inclined to believe that it had been Eliyahu HaNavi who had revealed himself first to us at the cemetery and then later to the Admor. “And maybe there was a misunderstanding and the conversation that came from the home of the Admor was really about another boy?” I asked. But my friend insisted that it was no mistake. “The following Shabbos I went home – bewildered and in a turmoil. I repeated the story to my parents, who were equally stunned. As imaginative as we tried to be, we were unable to come up with a plausible key to the mystery. “‘Let’s stop thinking about it.’ This time it was my mother who had spoken, sounding firm and decisive. ‘Hashem has enough ways to carry out His wishes. It is not our job to delve into figuring them out.’ “We stopped talking about it, but in my heart I was constantly davening that I would one day merit to meet that same man from the cemetery again. I longed to thank him, just once, for giving me a new lease on life; for taking an empty boy and turning him into a true ben Torah who loved nothing more than immersing himself into learning with his entire soul and being. “A year passed, and then two. Shadchanim started knocking on our doors. No one remembered the boy who I once was. Respectable offers came our way. In no time I was engaged, and then found myself standing under the chuppah on my wedding day. It was then that I remembered that man, whose face was still etched in my memory. Would I ever find out who was responsible for the revolution that had turned my life around?” At that point Shuki fell silent.
It seemed as if it was difficult for him to continue. Emotions were choking his throat. He heaved a heavy sigh. “A terrible tragedy took place several months ago, if you recall. A tremendous baal tzedakah was killed – Reb Ben Tzion Dunner, do you remember?” Indeed, the details of that tragedy were remembered all too clearly. “The newspapers published his picture. I recognized him at once and my heart fell. It was him. My savior. Just as I had remembered him. He hadn’t changed at all. Bentzi Dunner, the man who had donated endless amounts of money to the poor, to Torah, to avreichim, to what not? And he had used his connections in order to help an anonymous youth get on to the right path. I was dismayed when I realized that I would never be able to thank him.” We in the audience felt like we couldn’t face Shuki. His eyes were so full of sorrow, how he had yearned to meet that man again, to thank him, to shake his hand – just once! “I am relating this story to Kupat Ha’ir since this is the only thing I can do for the neshamah of this precious man. It is very difficult for me to open past wounds, to reveal those difficult times of my youth. But I must. My heart can find no peace. All the donations that will arrive in merit of this story will be an aliyah for his neshamah in Shamayim.” At this point his voice chokes. His chair scrapes the floor as he stands up. All eyes follow him. The silence in the room speaks louder than words. He makes his way to a nearby tzedakah box. He places a bill into its slot. “After all,” he says, his eyes a soft gleam. “It was this way that the entire revolution actually began. May this too serve as an aliyah for his neshamah.”
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Back to the Roots As told by Rebbetzen Kanievsky To hear Tel: 011-972-1599-59-4747
The walls of the home of the Gaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, and the Rebbetzin are witness to numerous tzaros and heartrending stories, some physical, and some spiritual. The Rav listens to the people as they pour their hearts out to him and then lift their spirits with encouragement and sage advice. They leave, after receiving his sincere brachah, feeling hopeful for the first time as they wait for signs of a yeshuah. Most people who come to the Rav are there for the purpose of unburdening their troubles. Not many
remember to come back to relate that their issue was resolved. Or perhaps they are hesitant to trouble him more than necessary, or maybe even embarrassed to take up more of his precious minutes. Yet there are stories that do come back. Some of them are recounted in short by Rebbetzin Kanievsky herself and can be heard by the public at this number: ………….. The following are some of those stories.
Sometimes people may think that if there are no specific troubles, if everyone is healthy, and there is adequate parnassah, as well stable shalom bayis – there are no problems. Everything else is a bonus and one should not complain if he is lucky enough to have the basics. True as this is, the fact remains that a family can collapse for many other reasons, even when from the outside it may seem as if nothing has changed. A fourteen year old smart and talented boy, the best in his yeshivah, suddenly loses his ability to understand and grasp material in depth, along with his unique talents. It was a mystery. Nothing seemed to have happened. He hadn’t been involved in any accident and he wasn’t taking any medication with side effects. What was even more perplexing was the fact that the sudden deterioration happened overnight. Everyone was sure that he would come back to himself – but he didn’t. The boy had at once become disorientated and in constant turmoil. He knew that he had the talent and the brains and the fact that he couldn’t put them to use caused him to feel lost and confused. The boy was a true yarei shamayim and he spent hours each day pouring his heart out in prayer to
Hashem. They resorted to all sorts of treatment but nothing seemed to help. His parents were just as saddened as he was; his pain was their pain as well. His mother decided to go to Rebbetzin Kanievsky, tlita, to pour out her heartbreaking tale. The Rebbetzin offered the boy’s mother encouragement which helped her strengthen her belief in Hashem; that He could send the yeshuah with the blink of an eye even when all seemed lost. She also reminded her of the tried and true segulah of donating to Kupat Ha’ir as a zechus for a yeshuah. Upon her return home the mother repeated the Rebbetzin’s advice to her dispirited son. The boy had a respectable sum of money which he had been saving since his bar mitzvah. He had planned to buy some seforim with them and had dreamed about it day and night. Now however, after obtaining his parents’ permission, he wasted no time in donating it to Kupat Ha’ir, while at the same time davening fervently for a speedy yeshuah. Hope had once again settled into his heart. The next day he sat during the shiur, his eyes sparkling with determination as he hung on to every word, yearning with all his heart to grasp, to understand. How he longed to finally be able to make up all that he had lost out on! And wonder of wonders he succeeded! The sweet taste of learning and understanding Torah once again filled up his entire being. Soon he was participating in the shiurim as if nothing had ever happened. When he came home after a tiring yet satisfying day his eyes said the entire story. But the improvement was very short lasting. A few days passed and he experienced a relapse; this time the depression and misery was felt even stronger than before. The mother returned to Rebbetzin Kanievsky. The pain she was carrying weighed down on her heart and her eyes were swollen from sleepless, tearful, nights that had become the norm for her of late. It was unbearable for her to see her son in such a miserable state without being able to comfort him. This time her son was beyond consolation.
“I have seventeen thousand dollars which we are saving in order to marry off the children,” the mother said to the Rebbetzin. “We have been saving up penny for penny ever since the children were young so that we would have something on the side to help when the time came for them to get married. But now we are thinking along different terms. We realize that seventeen thousand dollars can’t even buy half an apartment for a daughter, and won’t help us much with an arrangement for a son. The One Who will help us with all the other matters will help us with the financial aspects of marrying off our children as well. I would like to give the amount to tzedakah as a zechus for my son’s heart to be opened to Torah once again.” The Rebbetzin was taken aback. It was not everyday that one heard such a story. Seventeen thousand dollars!! And indeed, the mother gave the entire sum to Kupat Ha’ir. Her merciful Father in Shamayim
accepted her sacrifice with love. It wasn’t long before her son recovered completely and was given his place back at the top of the class. To the delight and relief of his parents, soon he was once again sitting and learning with enthusiasm and zeal.
One fine day a young Jew from overseas learns that a deadly illness is raging through his body. All at once life is put on hold. Things that had been so important and central suddenly seem so insignificant. Priorities change completely, as if a thick brush painted the world a darker, shadier tinge. “You have a fifteen percent chance of recovery,” grim faced doctors informed him. Ninety-five out of one hundred people who contact this disease quickly pass on to the next world. Only five of them survive…” Trying valiantly to keep himself from sinking into an abyss of despair he sends his life and death question to Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita: How much money should I donate to tzedakah in order to merit my life page 14 story supplement
back again? He asks, prepared to give any amount that the gaon might say. The Rav did not answer with an exact amount. His reply was that one does not make deals with Hashem and that he should give as much as he was able. The Rav advised him to donate specifically to Kupat Ha’ir, a fund that he knew to be trustworthy; its directors were extremely upright and honest and had no personal benefit from the fund. The sick man wasted no time in sending a sizable donation to Kupat Ha’ir. The next day he was scheduled to undergo another round of testing. This time he found himself waiting for the results with a much lighter heart. Perhaps this time there would be good news for him? And there was! The doctors were stunned. They checked again and again and tried to figure out how it was possible for such a drastic change to happen so quickly. They could come to no logical conclusion. “Did you do anything special or different recently?” the doctors asked him, not able to calm down. “Did you perhaps use magic? Is that how you managed to erase the awful sickness from your body?” The man could only smile in reply. Inwardly his heart was filled with deep gratitude to Hashem. It wasn’t magic, not at all… There is in fact a much simpler answer – Tzedakah saves from death! And a story of this nature did not happen just once. It repeated itself in a different version.
A thirty year old woman, mother to ten young children. She had married young and it wasn’t long before her home was filled with baby sounds, as she gave birth to them one after the next. Caring for three tots at once, preparing meals, making ends meet on a tight budget and contending with the flu spreading from one to the next was what comprised her entire world. And with it all her main focus was being a warm, devoted mother, giving loving, personal attention, wiping away tears and getting excited over a first drawing. And then suddenly a storm set in and her entire life was flooded at once. The diagnosis was a deadly disease; one with a zero percent chance of recovery.
“No one has ever recovered from this particular disease,” said the doctor, sharing in their intense sadness. The results were unequivocal; the doctors did not think there was much of a point in going through treatment. They were doubtful as to a chance of even lengthening her life or lessening the pain. She arrived at the home of Rebbetzin Kanievsky, tlita, her eyes shrouded in acute grief and sadness. “I’m so young!” she sobbed. “I have ten young children at home! Ten orphans!” The Rebbetzin held onto her and cried along with her. Her immediate response was silent commiseration, giving her space to continue pouring out her heart. “What will become of them?” she cried. “Who will raise them? What will my husband do? What will I be going through now?” What was there to answer this pitiful woman? The Rebbetzin tried to strengthen her heart in emunah and bitachon, in love of Hashem and complete dependence on Him. “Hashem also has mercy on your children,” she said. “His mercy is even greater than the mercy of a person of flesh and blood.” She advised her which tefillos to daven, and then she told her of the tremendous power of donating tzedakah to Kupat Ha’ir. She related a story of a man who donated to Kupat Ha’ir and literally returned from death. Somewhat comforted, the woman left the home of the Rebbetzin. A few days later she was back, this time looking very different. Her eyes were sparkling; she was trembling from disbelief, from excitement, as tears of happiness streamed down her face. “We came straight here from the hospital,” she said, barely her excitement. “They did some tests today and found nothing! Absolutely nothing! Ten doctors hovered over me, checking and then checking again. They redid the blood tests and the x-rays but still nothing came up! I’m completely healthy!” she exclaimed, and then, “My children will not be orphans!” When she succeeding in calming down somewhat she related the whole story from the beginning. “We set out for the hospital in the morning, intending to find out if perhaps there was something they could do for me. If not treatment, maybe they could stop the disease from spreading, perhaps they could do
something to lessen the damage.” And then she gave the Rebbetzin some background about their first years of marriage. “We got married ten years ago, both of us coming from poor homes. We received a tiny apartment, in desperate need of renovation. But we did not even have the funds for the basic work needed.” In the ten years of their marriage they had skrimped and saved and finally managed to amass a sum of money which they planned to use for the much needed renovation. That same morning, on the way to the hospital, the woman’s husband said to her, “We have ten thousand shekel to renovate our apartment. I want to use the money to ‘renovate’ my wife instead. Let’s donate the money to Kupat Ha’ir and Hashem will send us a yeshuah!” And it was as good as done. They made a stop at the bank, withdrew the entire amount and donated it in its entirety to Kupat Ha’ir. It was only then that they continued on their way to the hospital… “Ten doctors were there at once! They could not understand what happened! They kept comparing the results of the first test to today’s results and could not believe what they were seeing!” Unbelievable indeed. This story, too, can be heard on the voice mail number: …………. Rebbetzin Kanievsky herself relates the story in short, in her warm, pleasant voice which will surely tug at your heartstrings.
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To hear the story firsthand Tel: 011-972-50-411-2436 Twins. So o many prayer prayers accompany a child’s upbringing. It seems that with twins, the prayers multiply themselves and then some. One plus one is a lot more than two. Together they learn to say Modeh Ani as soon as they open their eyes… one begins talking earlier, the other starts climbing all over the place first. One is the babysitter’s favorite, while the other manages to capture grandma’s attention with his twinkling eyes. May they grow up smoothly, may there be no jealousy between them… Raising twins is hardly a simple feat. They graduated cheder after eight successful years. They were good, sweet boys who were well liked both by the rebbeim and their friends. “In order to be accepted to a good yeshivah ketana,” their parents were informed by their more “knowledgeable” friends, “you need lots of Heavenly mercy. Especially since you don’t have yichus to open doors for you.” No, they did not have any yichus, and they weren’t outstanding in any way. Just a fine typical family, but one in which its children were raised with a love for learning Torah imbued in their souls. The twins gave a donation to Kupat Ha’ir right before leaving home, each on their way to register at the yeshivah of their choice. They gave a significant sum, since this matter was one of great importance to them. The news spread fast – the twins were accepted without any complication. Eyebrows were raised in wonder, but all who knew them shared in their happiness. The boys completed yeshivah ketanah with success. They were good, serious boys, well versed in learning and treated by both the hanhalah and their friends with respect.The time had come to register to yeshivah gedolah. This time they did not need their friends’ advice or knowledge. They were all too familiar with the market and knew what the situation was. And they also knew that despite their flawless reputation page 16 story supplement
they did not stand much of a chance. “Contribute to Kupat Ha’ir,” their mother said to her anxious sons. “I always do that when I am faced with a difficulty and always see yeshuos. Hashem favors donations to Kupat Ha’ir and sends His assistance even in situations that appear to be beyond change. I myself donated countless times and was never disappointed!” The twins complied and were hopeful, but a small part of their heart was still skeptical that they would be accepted. One of the boys desired to learn in a yeshivah called Tifrach. He went to take the entrance exam, after which his yearning to be accepted became even greater. The second chose Ohr Yisrael and went to be tested. Both were good, leading yeshivos. Would the twins be accepted? At home their parents poured out sincere, heartfelt prayers. A negative answer would be a tough blow to the boys’ self image and general mood, besides the fact that they would be unable to learn in the yeshivah of their choice. With two sons registering in yeshivos, the prayers were doubled and tripled. The fear that only one would be accepted while the other wouldn’t was another concern that they hoped they wouldn’t have to contend with. Yet alas, that’s precisely what happened. Tifrach gave their positive reply without delay, while there was still no word from Ohr Yisrael. The tension at home increased with each passing day. The mother kept offering herself encouragement. We donated to Kupat Ha’ir. I had never been disappointed and this time will be no exception! But the disappointment came, full force and painful. The reply was negative. They tried applying pressure on the board, but the answer remained the same. In keen distress, the father went to Rav Mechel Yehuda Lefkowitz, shlita, in Bnei Brak. He related the
whole story, beginning with their donation to Kupat Ha’ir which assisted them in gaining acceptance in yeshivah ketanah many years earlier. He described the tension that pervaded their home and the boy’s aching to learn in that particular yeshivah. “It must be that it isn’t good for him to learn in that yeshivah,” the gaon said with assurance. “A donation to Kupat Ha’ir does not ruin things. It always helps; its power is sometimes even greater than tefillos. Don’t be stubborn! If he wasn’t accepted in that yeshivah, let him try elsewhere! The father left after hearing the Rav’s words with a lighter heart. A donation to Kupat Ha’ir doesn’t ruin things, he kept repeating to himself. He understood them to mean that sometimes the fact that the request was not accepted or that the desire wasn’t fulfilled is in itself a yeshuah! It was an interesting thought, interesting and oh, so important! As a devoted talmid, he had no doubts or misgivings about the rav’s reply. By the time he had reached his home, the picture was very clear in his eyes. It’s so simple, he said to his son. How hadn’t we thought about it ourselves? We did all the hishtadlus: you took the test, we donated to Kupat Ha’ir… and it’s not like we’re talking about something gashmiyus that perhaps we are not zoche to receive. We’re talking about learning Torah and growing in Avodas Hashem! We davened so much, and added a greater sum to tzedakah. Why weren’t you accepted? Simply because it’s not the right place for you! I have no doubt about that!” For the son it was a little harder to part from his dream of learning in Ohr Yisrael, but he was a loyal talmid himself. And when a gadol the stature of Rav Lefkowitz says something, one had to accept. A week later he went to the yeshivah of Chevron to register. The positive reply which came in no time caused him much joy and he waited in anticipation for the zeman to begin. During bein hazemanim he arranged study partners for himself, made peace with the fact that he wouldn’t be learning in Ohr Yisrael, and in the end was even pleased with the change. Chevron was a reputable yeshivah according to all opinions, and it would, be’ezras Hashem, be the right place for him as well. That he managed to find good study partners was in itself a great success and he inwardly thanked Hashem that things were finally beginning to look
on the good side. One day, before the beginning of the new zeman, a call came from Ohr Yisrael: “One of the boys whom we had accepted had a change of heart and has registered in a different yeshivah,” they said. “We have an available slot now and from all the boys who had been rejected, we’d like to offer the place to you. You’re invited to join us tomorrow with the beginning of the zeman.” !!!!!! “What now?” the bachur asked his father. “If Rav Lefkowitz said that Ohr Yisrael is not the place for me, why was I accepted in the end? If the fact that I was rejected was meant to hint to me that it wasn’t the right place for me, is the fact that I am now accepted meant to show me that it is the right place? How are we going to know what to do? What will I tell those bachurim that I planned to learn with? And besides, I already got used to the idea that I was going to Chevron – I don’t feeling like changing now! But perhaps the fact that I was finally accepted means that I have a better chance of succeeding in Ohr Yisrael?” The father, who was as confused as his son, decided to turn to Rav Lefkowitz yet again. “What does the Rav think I should do?” he began with a practical question. To the gaon the answer was obvious. “He prepared himself to learn in Chevron and that’s where he will go!” “So why did he suddenly get accepted? What changed? What are we to learn from this?” the father asked, feeling as if his son’s questions were bursting out of his throat, and at the same time, he too was baffled by the turn of events. The Rav answered calmly and clearly, “Whatever we spoke about till now still holds true. Ohr Yisrael is not the right place for him. That’s why his donation to Kupat Ha’ir and his tefillos did not help him get accepted. But in Shamayim they did not want him to feel as if his tzedakah was worthless. They wanted to show him that his donation succeeded in changing nature in its own way. He wanted to be accepted in Ohr Yisrael? His donation helped him get his way!” Here the Rav paused and then smiled warmly. “As far as learning is concerned, he’ll do better in Chevron, and that’s why he wasn’t accepted right away!” page 17 story supplement
Four Minutes to go… To hear the story firsthand Tel: 718-930-3780
Four Minutes to go… “Are you positive? There must be a mistake!” Rabbi P. was shocked and confused. He had a trip planned to spend several days in Eretz Yisrael, to participate in some important events and to take care of some urgent matters. Rabbi P. was quite an expert when it came to planning his trips to Eretz Yisrael. It was far from his first time and surely not his last. He had ordered his plane ticket through his usual travel agent, packed some items that he knew he would need, and then bade his family farewell before leaving for the airport. Only to be told that his flight had already departed twelve hours ago! “Since when is there a flight at twelve noon?” he asked. “Only in July,” explained the clerk in polite English. “We add one additional flight to Israel every day. At ten minutes to twelve. The usual flight, ten minutes to twelve midnight, is still on every night.” “I had no idea! I simply had no idea!” exclaimed Rabbi P. “The travel agent booked my ticket and I didn’t even bother to check if it was during the day or at night. I never knew of the additional flights.” As logical as the reason for the mistake was, he had still missed his flight. The next flight was completely booked. Rabbi P. was in a quandary as to how to proceed from there. To go back home and return in another twelve hours was a real hassle. And besides, in the tzava’ah of Reb Yehuda HaChassid it said that one should not return home once he began his journey. He considered booking in to a hotel and then wondered if perhaps it was best to wander around
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the airport until the next flight. He thought of all the meetings he had lined up in Eretz Yisrael. Now his scheduled would be totally botched up… Rabbi P. decided to try his luck one more time. “Maybe there was some cancellation on the next flight?” he asked. The clerk shook her head sympathetically. “Ten tickets more than the maximum number of seats had been sold,” she explained, “since there are always people who end up missing the flight. And besides,” she went on, pointing to a secular man sitting on a nearby bench. “That man there had the same mistake as you did. If we do have a vacant seat in the end he comes first.” Rabbi P. turned to look at the man who shared his plight and then decided to go sit down near him. He figured it was worth waiting until the end of the actual boarding just in case there would be an empty seat after all. It was then that a thought entered his mind. Perhaps I should donate to Kupat Ha’ir, he thought to himself. What have I got to lose? I will have earned a mitzvah in any case, whether I will be allowed onto the flight or not. Rabbi P. took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed the number to Kupat Ha’ir. When the secretary answered he gave her the sum that he wanted to donate. When the conversation ended he muttered a heartfelt prayer that Hashem protect him and lead him on a good path. The secular sitting near Rabbi P. studied him with interest. As the hands of the clock neared the time that the gates would be closing, both Rabbi P. and the other
man were summoned to board the plane. “There are quite a few vacant seats as of now,” the secretary informed them. “But take into account that if the people suddenly show up in the last minute you will be forced to disembark.” The minutes passed by. The amount of people now rushing towards the gate had turned to a trickle, but slowly, slowly, the amount of vacant seats became less and less. Would they be forced to head back in the direction they had come from? Ten minutes before the closing of the gates. Three seats still vacant. Rabbi P. almost allowed himself to breathe in relief. But not yet. Seven minutes before closing time five people belonging to the same family arrived out of breath from running so fast. There were only three empty seats. Rabbi P. and the other man were forced to relinquish their seats. “I’m really sorry,” the clerk said again, visibly uncomfortable. “It is quite unusual for people to board the plane this late. And this time it was five people at once! Such a thing is totally unexpected. I’m sorry.” Her polite explanations and sincere apology did not placate the infuriated man. Rabbi P. literally had to cover his ears to drown out the curse words that the man was flinging towards the plane, the pilot, the stewardesses, the clerk, the passengers who had arrived so late…. The tension in the room was palpable. Rabbi P. did not utter a sound. The man looked at his watch, an expression of anger on his face. “The flight is full,” he said, to no one in particular. “There is no point in waiting.” And with that he turned on his heels and left. Rabbi P. knew that the man was right, but still, there were four minutes left. Perhaps a miracle would take place? At the same moment a man was spotted disembarking the plane. He was talking animatedly on his cell phone, He made his way to the clerk and said, “I just became a grandfather! I’d like to postpone my trip for another few days. Is there anyone who can take my place?” he asked, and without waiting for a reply he disappeared from sight.
“Where is that man who was waiting with you?” the clerk asked, looking in all directions. “He left,” Rabbi P. whispered in disbelief. “Just before. He finished cursing and left.” “So run!” exclaimed the clerk. “The doors will be closing in just two minutes!” Rabbi P. quickly made his way towards the boarding gate and then ran towards the plane. He found a vacant seat and sat down – at the precise moment that the doors shut. As the plane began running down the runway, Rabbi P. thought about the events that had taken place. He realized that if those five family members had not arrived at the last minute that secular man would have waited around to see if there would remain a seat for him. It was plain to Rabbi P. that his donation to Kupat Ha’ir had afforded him a great merit. A slow smile played on Rabbi P.’s lips. The last several hours had perhaps been charged with tension. But now, what mattered most was that he was well on his way to being on time and on schedule
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A Yeshuah Without an Identity To hear the story firsthand by Harav Dov C. Tel: 011-972-3-618-0068
“Do you hear, Ima? She’s crying… listen! That’s your first grandchild.” He moved the cell phone away from his ear and held it so his newborn daughter’s wails would be heard all the way to France. “Would you like to hold your daughter, sir?” The midwife, perceptive and sensitive, understood that the young, inexperienced couple had no immediate family in Israel with whom to share their joy. The new father spoke a few more words in lilting French and then set the cell phone down on the dresser.
“We can’t give her an Israeli I.D. number,” the clerk at The National Insurance office located at the end of the corridor in Maayanei Hayeshuah hospital said. “You’re not Israelis, neither you nor your husband, right?” She glanced at their passports for confirmation. “But we want our daughter to be Israeli!” the new mother couldn’t understand why the clerk was making things difficult for a not-yet-two-day-old baby. “First make her a passport. Then you can verify what can be done about Israeli citizenship.”
“I… I’m a little afraid to hold her,” he said hesitantly, looking sheepish. “I’m afraid she might fall.” A tear of emotion rolled down his beard.
“She won’t fall, Abba. She won’t fall. She’s your daughter. Embrace her.”
The new mother had an American passport, as she’d been born in America. Her family had moved to England when she was a young child, though, so her daughter was not eligible to receive an American passport as naturally as she had received hers. She wasn’t eligible to receive an English passport, either, because her mother hadn’t been born in England.
He took the tiny bundle all wrapped up in a soft white cloth. “She’s a real live baby and she’s ours,” he said to his wife, who was still weeping openly. Some women are like that: the tears come after the baby is born. The baby whimpered again and her father took a step toward the cell phone. He wanted his parents over in France to hear her. It was a shame they hadn’t made a conference call to his in-laws, too. “Our daughter was born in Eretz Yisrael, David. She won’t be an immigrant like us.” She spoke Hebrew, but with a pronounced British accent. “It’s good that way.” His accent was pronounced as well, perhaps even more than hers. “A Jewish child in Eretz Yisrael. What could be better than that?” 48 hours later, things suddenly didn’t seem so simple. page 20 story supplement
The baby’s parents soon learned that the matter was far from simple.
A French passport? The baby’s father had been born and bred in France. There should be no problem there. But there was one. He had married his wife according to Jewish law, not according to French law. He had neglected to report his marriage to the French Ministry of Interior. Now he had to present documents in order to obtain a marriage certificate and then present additional documents reporting his daughter’s birth before he could request a passport for her. It was a long, exhausting procedure that was sure to take at least half a year.
The new parents held their baby daughter in their arms and felt utterly helpless: a girl without a home, without an identity, without a country! She didn’t have Israeli citizenship, or an American, English or French passport! What a strange feeling. “The fact that you’re here in my arms is enough proof that you’ve been born,” the baby’s mother said to her daughter. “I don’t need any documents to confirm that I love you to pieces!” The tiny baby smiled. Was it a reflex or truly her first smile? It made no difference; the main thing was that she was smiling. The main thing was that her parents knew she was their daughter, documents or no documents. But love, deep and abundant as it may be, cannot provide transit rights and without a passport, they couldn’t leave the country and visit their parents overseas. “We’re waiting for you!” his parents said in lilting French. “You must come visit!” her parents said in clipped British tones. “The pictures are stunning, but they just make us miss you even more!” both families said in the language of the heart. But the baby had no documents. No documents! Just an Israeli birth certificate, a worthless piece of paper everywhere besides for the Israeli baby clinic. But there, too, they asked for the baby’s discharge form from the hospital. There, too, they got stuck when the computer asked for the baby’s ID number. The nurses couldn’t open a computerized file for her. “You mean it doesn’t make a difference if she eats Materna or Similac because she doesn’t have an ID number?” the mother asked, half-laughing, halfcrying. “So what if she doesn’t have a number? Isn’t
she a person? Isn’t it important to track her weight and length and rate of development?” The nurse opened a handwritten file for her. “Baby Without an Identity,” she wrote in large letters on the front cover. A pity it was impossible to create a handwritten airline ticket, too. When the new mother recuperated somewhat, the couple began the chase after the necessary documentation in order to receive a French marriage certificate. When the entire pile of papers was ready, down to the last detail, they traveled to the French consulate in Tel Aviv: Abba, Ima and the baby. Maybe this way, they hoped, they would give them the necessary approval to make out a passport in her name. It was a long shot, but maybe… Pesach was coming up and they longed to spend the holiday with their loved ones. Even if they received approval, it would take a few weeks of tedious bureaucracy until it was arranged, and it would be difficult to find airline tickets at the last minute. If there were tickets available, they were sure to be much more expensive than if they were to purchase tickets in advance. The extra expense would be a drain on their already overextended budget (a child without an identity does not receive any benefits!), but there was no choice. Their parents missed them so terribly and the feeling was mutual. They had relatives in Israel who could host them for Yom Tov if worse came to worst. But they longed to be with their parents. Before they arrived at the consulate, the new father said to his wife, “If we leave with permission to make her a passport, we’ll contribute NIS 200 to Kupat page 21 story supplement
Ha’ir.” Such a simple sentence! They had no idea, yet, how many obstacles that sentence would help them overcome. “The marriage branch is closed on Wednesdays,” they were told at the entrance to the consulate. “Didn’t you know?” No, they had no idea. They looked at one another in consternation. A young father, a new mother, a newborn baby. The taxi to the embassy had cost a pretty penny. It had been such an effort to get out. They felt so stupid, coming at the wrong time. “As long as we’re here already, let me verify about a ticket forr myself,” the young man said to his wife. O.K. At least east they would do something. They approached proached the clerk.
in order before the holidays. He’ll take care of his marriage certificate later.” The couple listened in disbelief. An emergency passport, no less! “This is an excellent opportunity to teach our staff how to issue an emergency ticket,” the consul said to the clerk. “Call everyone over here.” As they watched the staff assemble, they learned that on that day, that very same day, France had inaugurated a new emergency passport. Especially in their honor! The clerks assembled and listened carefully carefull as the consul explained the various stages. Naturally, Natura they all heard the story about the baby without an identity.
“I want to fly abroad,” the young father said, aid, “but I haven’t yet reported my marriage. I have all my documents here with me but the marriage department closed.” ent iiss cl clos osed ed.”
“That’ “T That’s why you’re an issuing her h e m e r g e n c y they passport?” asked the cconsul in amazement. amaa zem am emen entt .
“You need ed to note the change nge in your marital status before you can order a ticket,” the clerkk said. But they th ey couldn’t do that now, ow, either! Husband d and wife looked at each other in despair. The clerk caught look and inquired what the trouble was.
He nodded. “So every time someone s document, we’re lacks a documen to issue an emergency em passport?” they asked. asked said that! “G-d forbid! I never sa Every case is different.”
He listened d as the h young man outlined l d his h problem. bl His kind expression made it tempting to unburden themselves completely. Why did their story touch his heart? He couldn’t say. He heard so many stories every day… He went to the trouble of summoning the consul himself. He figured the consul could at least explain the procedure that awaited them after they arranged the matter of the marriage certificate. The consul stepped forward to greet them. (Why?) He listened attentively to the story and said to the clerk, “You know what? Make them an emergency passport. Otherwise, they’ll never get everything page 22 story supplement
“And this is a case that justifies j an emergency passport?” the th clerks amazement. asked, unable to hide their ama An emergency passport because a couple wanted to visit their parents for the h holidays! Who had ever heard of such a thing? The consul said nothing. He continued explaining how the issuance was to be completed, step by step, leaving his underlings to scratch their heads in bewilderment. The father and mother stood to a side in silent wonderment. An angel spoke through his throat, the father later wrote to Kupat Ha’ir. What other explanation could there be? The consul completed his lesson and left the room. “I wouldn’t issue an emergency passport for a case
like this,” one clerk said firmly. “I wouldn’t even approve a one-time flight,” said another. “This is a classic example of a situation where one should not give in to pressure,” said a third. But the consul had issued instructions and the clerks hurried to fill them. Keyboards clacked as the clerks asked the couple various questions. Suddenly, there was a problem. Since this was a new type of emergency passport that had only that day been launched, none of the clerks had ever had the opportunity to make one before. They tried again and again but there seemed to be no solution. They dialed France for technical support.
And so we have reached the end…. If you managed to read until here, you must be taking a deep, satisfied breath, feeling your hearts fill with amazement, wonder and emotion.
“It’s going to take a while,” the first clerk said.
And much more than that!
The couple sat down to wait.
How fortunate we are to belong!
A few moments later, the consul stepped out. “It’s a shame for you to wait. It might take a few hours until we get tech support. Who knows when they’ll get the matter straightened out? Come back next week to pick up the passport.”
Indeed, the Kupat Ha’ir Tzedakah Fund exists only on the merit of its contributors. It is through them that the yeshuos all came about.
The couple thanked the consul warmly and rose to leave. It was a shame that they would have to pay for another taxi ride next week. But what can you do?
Even if your personal yeshuos were for trivial, everyday matters and you had never experienced any stressful story, surely you remember moments of frustration and despair, feelings of confusion and pain that resulted from those relatively insignificant predicaments.
The mother left, the baby in her arms, and tried to flag down a cab. The father lingered a moment as he verified the embassy’s exact address. Suddenly, the consul came running out of his office. “You’re still here? Don’t go yet! Tech support just called!” A moment later, the couple would have been sitting comfortably in a taxi. They did not have a cell phone on them. It would have been impossible to call them back. They went back inside and waited some more, their hearts wavering between optimism and careful realism. But the chain of events thus far had been so amazing… would there be yet another obstacle to overcome? “No more obstacles! We contributed to Kupat Ha’ir, remember?” “How could I possibly forget?” “Here you go. Have a pleasant trip,” the clerk told them. He handed them a signed passport, ready for use. There was still plenty of time before Pesach to get cheap tickets and their daughter-without-an-identity had an emergency passport.
Until Kupat Ha’ir entered your life. The ability to solve small problems easily, to find lost items that disappear specifically when needed most, to get the teacher you hoped for, the best bed in the dormitory… Kupat Ha’ir affords us the merit to be constantly in the shadow of Hashem, the privilege of raising our eyes towards Him in prayer, and the luxury of solving any crisis – big or small – through a simple act of reaching out to the needy with our tzedakah.
page 23 story supplement
The Tzedakah Of The Gedolei Hador