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I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation

No Chance At All (?)

This story can be heard firsthand after 21:30 at 057-3119274

“You’ll have to extend at some point, right? So why live in such crowded conditions all these years? Just do it now and get it over with.”

His mother wasn’t usually much of a talker. She was a shvigger, which meant that anything she said could be construed the wrong way. But she saw the children sleeping packed like sardines, two to a bed, and her heart went out to them.

“Where will you put the baby when you have no choice but to move him out of his porta-crib?” her mother asked. She could speak more freely with her daughter than her daughter’s mother-in-law. “Where, tell me? What are you going to do, hang a crib from the ceiling? You have kids sleeping in the dining room and in the dinette. In the bedrooms you have them doubled up. Kids need more than just a place to sleep; they need place to grow.”

“I think we’ll remove the beds and have them sleep on mattresses on the floor,” she replied with a forced smile. “That way there’ll be more room.” She was trying her best to manage somehow in her 48-meter apartment without losing her cool. “My kids certainly don’t deserve two punishments – a tiny apartment and a snappish mother,” she concluded.

“They don’t deserve one punishment, either. Everyone extends these days. You just take a deep breath and jump in. You’ll borrow some money, take some loans and cut corners as best you can. Hashem will help. You have such a good opportunity to add on a room. Don’t be such loafers!”

He heard her from his chair in the dining room. Although he knew his mother-in-law meant well, the words stung. He wasn’t a loafer. Not at all. He had three learning sedarim every day. He brought home a kollel stipend plus “shemiras hasedarim.” True, it wasn’t very much, even combined. His wife received unemployment benefits and they lived frugally. How could he ever return huge loans?

But the family grew, with Hashem’s help, and the necessity could no longer be put off. They shopped around for a cheap contractor, received two or three estimates, offered a prayer up to Shamayim and committed to a particular sum. “Very reasonable,” said everyone who heard. For them, it was an astronomical amount. Astronomical.

They did everything on the most basic, standard level. No frills. Just a new room, the porch right off it and a necessary change inside the apartment to allow for a door to the new room.

But when it comes to renovations, as everyone knows, things often work out differently than planned. The change inside the apartment turned out to be much more complicated than they had originally thought. Suddenly, their expenses mushroomed out of proportion but there was no going back anymore at that point. He approached another few friends for loans and somehow managed to keep his head above water.

Construction progressed nicely and the contractor demanded payments as the work was completed. He took additional loans from gemachs and borrowed the rest from a number of great-uncles. He found himself constantly busy with bills, guarantors, payments, payback dates and all the rest.

What could he do? Necessity was necessity.

The new room was completed. Suddenly, there was breathing space. A second-hand triple high riser was placed in the new room and the children stretched out comfortably. A spot was found for the baby’s crib. Ah, what a relief.

But the burden of debt hung over him like a heavy cloud. The friends who had given him emergency loans expected their money back. He was busy scrambling for the monthly sum he needed to pay back his originally anticipated debts. Before he realized what was happening, he was caught up in a vicious, never-ending cycle, borrowing from X in order to pay Y.

“Take another mortgage,” his mother advised. She was experienced in such matters; she’d already married off a number of children.

“Maybe you should consider taking out a second mortgage?” his mother-in-law suggested. “That way, at least you’ll be more organized. You’ll be able to return all your little debts and be left with just one outstanding debt.”

Left with no choice, he went down to the bank.

“But you have a huge mortgage on your apartment!” The clerk who had arranged his mortgage for him years earlier, before his marriage, still remembered him. “You’ve got no chance at all. Do you at least have steady, reliable sources of income?”

He had to reply honestly that no, he did not.

“You haven’t a chance in the world. Don’t waste your time and effort. To get a mortgage, you’ll have to hire an appraiser to appraise your apartment. You’ll have to fill out dozens of forms and invest time and money. Take my advice and don’t bother starting because you won’t get what you’re after in any case. Trust me; I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been working here 35 years. You won’t get a mortgage.”

He was about to leave the bank, terribly dejected, when a different clerk waved him over. “I heard you talking to the other clerk,” he said. “I do think there’s a chance you might be granted an additional mortgage. If you’re truly desperate, start the process. I’ll see what I can do to move things along.”

So he began. He hired an appraiser and invested money. He filed out forms and ran around completing one thing after another. The chance to merge all his small loans into one central one he could pay off at a steady monthly rate he could afford was a lifebelt, no less.

In the meantime, he had a response for everyone who asked for his money back. “I’ve applied for a new mortgage. When I get it, I’ll pay back all my loans, including yours.” His friends accepted his explanation and agreed to wait.

It was at this time that one bank after another began crashing in America, with implications for the entire world. For him, the implications were very unpleasant. He received a letter from the bank informing him that as a result of the worldwide recession, the terms for eligibility for a mortgage had become stricter than before and his request was being turned down.

What do I do now? he asked himself in despair. People are waiting for their money. I promised them I’d return it. I can’t handle the constant scrambling to borrow money from one source to pay back another. What good is our new, more spacious apartment if instead of enjoying it with my family, I’m busy running around all day? How will this end?

Only someone who has been through the steamroller of debt can understand what it means. Afraid as he had been to go into debt to begin with, he would never have believed just how pressured he would feel.

The fact that he had invested money in an effort to receive a new mortgage rankled as well. Here he was deeply in debt, yet he had paid for an appraiser’s services and more – and now it was all going down the drain.

“Speak to a mortgage consultant,” friends advised him. “If there’s any chance at all, it’s through a mortgage consultant. Sure, it’ll cost you; what can you do? But at least he can make things happen.”

The consultant looked at his file. “Forget about it,” he said. “There’s nothing to talk about. You’ll never get a mortgage, period.”

He left the meeting feeling more crushed than before. More money spent; another hope dashed.

On that same day, Kupat Ha’ir’s Chanukah brochures were distributed. He flipped dejectedly through the brochure, reading the stories but not really comprehending what he was reading. His mind was on his debts.

Suddenly, he found himself on the yeshuos page. Kupat Ha’ir! He thought to himself, sitting up straighter. Kupat Ha’ir! Why didn’t I think of that until now? He quickly calculated how much the consultant would have charged him had he agreed to take on his case.

“If I get the mortgage without spending any more money,” he said pleadingly to Hashem, “I pledge the entire sum to Kupat Ha’ir. Ana Hashem, hoshia na!”

He thought of the countless stairs he had climbed to gemachs, the terrible aggravation he was enduring, the discomfort he felt when meeting friends and relatives who had lent him money and the hours and hours lost. All these added a special sense of urgency and desperation to his prayer. He was well aware of the hopelessness of his situation. The bank clerks and the mortgage consultant knew what they were talking about. But a contribution to Kupt Ha’ir had rules all its own, and he depended on them.

Later, feeling considerably strengthened, he went to the bank.

“Tell me, please,” he said to the clerk. “Is it possible to send in my application again, after it was rejected? Maybe you can send it to a different manager this time? Maybe there still is some slight chance?”

“It can be done,” the clerk replied slowly. “But it’s a waste of time in your case. I don’t see the point.”

“Oh, but I do,” he insisted. “I’ll phrase my request somewhat differently this time and please send it in again. What do I have to lose?”

The clerk had to agree there was nothing to lose.

The letter was sent.

Two days passed. Then the clerk called from the bank.

“All the directors rejected your request,” he began.

His heart fell.

“…except for one,” he went on. “He said he doesn’t know why, but something about your request bothered him. He asked to keep it on his desk for another day or two. He wants to think about it.”

“Okay. I don’t like it that my request is bothering someone, but if something good comes out of it, he, too, will have a portion in the World to Come.”

One day passed, then another and another. Every day, he phoned the bank and every day he heard that “no decision has been reached as of yet.”

Another two nerve-wracking weeks passed.

“If I don’t have an answer by tomorrow,” he said to the clerk, on the brink of despair, “I’m going to simply call him up and tell him I must have an answer either way.”

“Even the slight chance you have will go up in thin air if you do that,” the clerk advised him. “No one likes to be pressured, certainly not a bank manager, certainly not when all his colleagues rejected your request immediately, certainly not when approving your request goes against he bank’s policy.’

The clerk’s advice notwithstanding, he called the following day. He described the intense pressure he was under and politely requested a decision. The director promised to render one quickly.

He was sure he knew what the decision would be. A quick decision could only be one kind…

But he was wrong.

Kupat Ha’ir’s “mortgage consultant,” Who controls everything in this world, arranged matters according to a different system of considerations. The answer was positive and it came through that very afternoon, against all odds. The clerks were astonished.

The words seemed to dance on the page. It wasn’t just the mortgage, nor the fact that the gloomy predictions had all been proven false. More than anything else, it was the wonderful feeling of hashgachah pratis, of a request answered. It was that special, incomparably sweet bond shared with Hakadosh Baruch Hu

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