Kupat Ha'ir – The Tzedakah of the Gedolei Hador Kupat Ha'ir is the largest volunteer based charity fund supported by Jews worldwide. Kupat Ha'ir is the lifeline for thousands of needy. With offices in Israel, the U.S., Canada and throughout Europe.
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I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation

The Exception

This story can be heard firsthand after 22:00 at 050-4140370

In lieu of an introduction:

The following paragraph has been excerpted verbatim from the letter written by R› Yosef, the protagonist of our story, to Kupat Ha›ir. We felt it would be improper to present this amazing story without giving due to the first paragraph of the letter.

I’m a steady supporter of Kupat Ha’ir. I even help out with collection from various neighborhoods sometimes, as my friend ---- (one of Kupat Ha’ir’s gabba’im) can attest. I never once doubted Kupat Ha’ir’s integrity. Butt here was one thing I laughed about long and hard – the part about the yeshuos. Every brochure that came out was an object of scorn and derision on my part. Until one day my turn came.

• • •

Everything was in order. The suitcases had been meticulously packed and weighed. The handbag was ready, too. R’ Yosef and his wife intended to leave at dawn. They were traveling to Eretz Yisrael with a stop in Europe along the way in order to take care of a few important matters. They were seasoned travelers, accustomed to airports, passport control and the rest. They hoped everything would go smoothly this time.

It was quite late in the evening when a friend called.

“You’re traveling to Europe tomorrow morning, right? Listen, I have three packages that I need urgently to send to three important customers over there. This is so min hashamayim! I’ve been terribly worried about this since yesterday. This is critically important for me.”

“No problem,” R’ Yosef said graciously. “Bring it over here and I’ll stick it in my trunk. I’m always glad to do a favor. If I’m going anyway, let someone else get some benefit out of my trip, too. Why not?”

He couldn’t think of a single reason “why not,” but he’d know soon enough.

The friend brought over the packages. They were three fancy boxes filled with an assortment of creams, cosmetics and leading perfumes.

“The industry is in a slump now,” the friend explained, looking somewhat dejected. “People don’t have extra money, so luxuries like these become second or third priority. But that, unfortunately, is how I make my living. I can’t afford to lose these three customers.”

“The wheel of fortune keeps turning,” R’ Yosef said encouragingly, clapping his friend on the shoulder. “Today you’re on bottom; tomorrow you’ll be on top. In any case, you can relax. Your customers will get their goods. We don’t use this stuff; we don’t know anything about it. We won’t even be tempted to peek.”

They chuckled at R’ Yosef’s joke and the friend left, feeling optimistic.

R’ Yosef placed the three packages in his trunk, completely forgetting that he’d already weighed his bags and that they were just under the permitted weight.

“That will be an additional three hundred dollars, sir,” the clerk at the check-in counter said.

“Three hundred dollars? Whatever for?” R’ Yosef protested. He’d never had overweight bags.

The clerk pointed to the digital numbers on the screen. There was no denying that the items on the scale weighed more than airline policy allowed.

“Moishe’s boxes!” R’ Yosef cried out, slapping his forehead. “I forgot all about them! Alright, I guess there’s no choice. I’ll transfer them to my handbag.”

He quickly removed the three bags and placed them in his handbag. Then he returned the large suitcase to the scale. Now it was precisely the permitted the weight, just as he had made sure at home.

The couple continued on to security. R’ Yosef was cool and collected. He still didn’t realize what was awaiting him.

The law is that passengers leaving the United States by plane are forbidden to bring any liquids on board the plane. There are no exceptions whatsoever. There is no sympathy; no excuses are accepted. No liquids allowed on board, period. And here he was, walking with his handbag containing three boxes of creams and perfumes…

“This passenger needs special treatment,” declared the x-ray technician as R’ Yosef’s handbag went through the machine. He immediately motioned for a border policewoman standing nearby to come over.

“There’s something very suspicious about this package,” the technician told the policewoman. “Very suspicious!”

R’ Yosef clutched his head in both hands. Oy vey! Now it was too late!

The policewoman waved them aside.

The problematic handbag was placed on a counter. R’ Yosefs heart skipped a beat. Three expensive packages… what would they do with them now? Should they miss the plane because of them? Would the authorities confiscate them?

The first thing the policewoman withdrew from the handbag was a container of cottage cheese.

“Don’t you know we don’t allow liquid on board?” she shouted at them.

“Is cottage cheese a liquid?”

“It’s somewhere in between a liquid and a solid, and we’re very strict about such matters!”

If cottage cheese was a liquid, what would she have to say about the cosmetics?

“We’re never going to get away with this,” R’ Yosef’s said in Yiddish. “They’re going to confiscate the packages for sure. I feel so bad for your friend. It’s going to be so awful for us to have to break the news to him. We need to do something beyond derech hateva… How about contributing to Kupat Ha’ir?”

Reb Yosef was willing to try anything at this point, even a contribution to Kupat Ha’ir. First let’s see the yeshuah, he thought to himself. Then we’ll see about a contribution.

On the spot, he promised a considerable sum to Kupat Ha’ir.

In the meantime, the policewoman had pulled out the first package. Her eyes glittered with greed. She opened the box, taking care not to ruin the elegant wrapping. She withdrew a bottle of perfume and placed it carefully on the counter, looking at it with undeniable pleasure. Next came a bottle of shampoo, a container of cream, and tubes of lotion, all with fancy labels. The box was still not empty. The policewoman peered inside.

“Whose is all this?” she asked.


“What’s in the other two boxes?”

“The same thing.”

She opened another box, peeked inside, nodded and closed it up. Their hearts were pounding wildly.

“You are not to touch a thing now. Is that clear?” she asked, her voice harsh.

They nodded apprehensively.

“John, keep an eye on them, okay?” she called to another cop.

Where was she going? Whom was she going to call? Were they going to be arrested?

She returned five minutes later, holding a roll of tape imprinted with the logo of the airport’s security division. She returned all the items to their place, closed the boxes back up and taped them up well. She withdrew the third box and taped that one up, too.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is okay,” she said, not bothering to provide an explanation. “I taped the boxes up so that no one else should stop you. If you run into any problems, point out the tape with the logo and you’ll be okay.” With that, she turned on her heel and left.

R’ Yosef and his wife took everything and moved aside. They were shocked. Just like that! No explanation, no reason, no warning for the future… nothing! She just taped them up and let it go! As they reorganized their bag, a different woman, seemingly in her eighties, put her bag through the x-ray machine.

“What are those things in there?” the technician asked, summoning the policewoman once again.

“Oh, come on!” the elderly woman protested. “I’m eighty years old! What do you think, I’m out to poison the country?”

They withdrew from her handbag a pouch containing a bottle of shampoo, a bottle of perfume, and some creams.

“This is a liquid, ma’am, a li-quid! Don’t you understand? Liquids are forbidden on board!”

The woman protested and a crowd gathered. The police woman mercilessly dropped item after item into the garbage can. The woman had a fit of hysterics; the technician tried to shush her; and the people standing around did their best to console her.

“They confiscated my perfume, too.”

“I also had my shampoo and creams taken. What can you do? That’s just the way it is.”

“Be glad nothing worse happened. You can always buy new shampoo and perfume. The main thing is your health.”

“It’s not the end of the world. They don’t allow liquids on board, period.”

“They don’t let anyone get away with it. They’re not picking on you. That’s the rule for everyone.”

“What can you do? The only thing they allow on board is prescription medication or baby bottles.”

“That’s the way they are here. They wouldn’t even let me take cottage cheese on board!”

R’ Yosef and his wife listened in amazement, barely able to believe what had just happened.

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