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

For The First Time

"I can't seem to find place to put all my guests," Mrs. N said worriedly to her neighbor as the two of them hung their wet laundry on the clotheslines outside their windows. "I've called so many friends and neighbors, even people I barely know. This neighborhood is full of chutzniks who go away for Shabbos a lot, so it's usually not a problem to find an apartment in which to put guests up for a Shabbos. But somehow, everyone seems to be staying home davka this week, when we're making sheva brachos!"
The wedding had been held the night before. There were still a few days until Shabbos but no apartment possibilities in sight. Mrs. N couldn't invite guests who lived outside her city, or even those from distant neighborhoods within her city, unless she had accommodations to offer them.
A few minutes later, there was a quiet knock on the N's door. It was one of her neighbors, a young American woman with a few small children.
"I heard what you were saying," Esther said shyly. "I think we can give you our apartment for Shabbos."
"Really?" Mrs. N asked, her face lighting up. "Wow, that would be wonderful!" Then she frowned. "Wait a minute, didn't I ask you already quite some time ago if you were going away for this Shabbos? I'm quite sure you told me you were planning to stay home this week!"
"That's right," Esther replied with a smile. "We'll be home, be'ezras Hashem. But my husband's sister's apartment is empty because she's overseas for bein hazemanim. I just spoke to her on the phone. She said we can use her apartment for Shabbos.
"You mean you would leave your own house so I can put up guests in your apartment? I… I can't accept such a favor!" Mrs. S was very astounded by her neighbor's generosity but she felt she had to turn down the offer. Leaving one's house for Shabbos with a few young children meant packing suitcases with bottles and diapers and toys and whatnot. Why should Esther's family do all that for her?
"I'm used to going away for Shabbos," Esther said, guessing her neighbors thoughts. "I'm a pro at packing already. My sister-in-law's house is not far from here; we can walk over. Don't worry; it's fine, really. You can accept my offer. It's not every day you marry off a daughter.
"I… thank you so much." Mrs. N couldn't find the words to thank Esther. "If we don't come up with anything else, I'll accept your offer. My in-laws can't handle lots of steps, so your first-floor apartment would be just perfect for them. I already feel my blood pressure going down!"
At five o'clock on Friday afternoon, an hour and forty minutes before the zeman, Esther, her husband Mendy and her young children set out for the house where they planned to spend Shabbos. They planned to make a few last-minute preparations: a white tablecloth had to be spread on the table, candles had to be prepared, hot water boiled. They walked leisurely along, already dressed in their Shabbos finery. They were invited out for the seudos, so there was no need to shlep pots and containers of food.
It was a few minutes after five when they arrived.
"The next-door-neighbors have the key," Mendy said to Esther as he prepared to carry their suitcase up the stairs.
Esther offered each of her hands to a child and climbed the stairs. She was in no rush – yet.
She knocked at the Feldman's door. No answer. She knocked again. And again. And again. No answer.
She rang the bell. What if they're napping and we're waking them? she thought.

No response.
Esther listened hard for sounds of activity in the Feldmans' apartment. Nil.
"Are you sure your sister said the key would be at the Feldmans'?" Esther called to her husband. "They're not home!"
Mendy bounded up the stairs. He jabbed the doorbell and kept his finger there for a long moment. No answer. Esther tried the door handle. The door was locked.
They looked at one another. What were they to do? It was an hour and a half before Shabbos. Their own apartment was taken and they were facing a locked door!

"Call Judy," Esther said, trying to be optimistic. "Maybe she meant a different neighbor."
Mendy dialed his parents' house in the States, where his sister was staying. He was sure Judy had said the key was at the Feldmans'.
"There's no answer," he said, biting his lip. He tried Judy's cell number but received her voice mailbox.
"Maybe you can ask the downstairs neighbor if she knows where the Feldmans are? Maybe Mr. Feldman went to the mikveh and she's taking a walk with the children…" Hope is a good thing but they both had a hunch the Feldmans were not anywhere local.
"They went away for Shabbos," Esther reported after checking with a neighbor. "They're not in the city. They left a few hours ago." Suddenly, the pressure was too much to bear. This was no joke! The children were beginning to lose patience. They had nowhere to go!
"Did you ask the downstairs neighbor if she has a key?"
"No, she doesn't. I asked the neighbor opposite her, too. No key."
"Let's try the upstairs neighbors."
Esther sighed and climbed the additional flight of stairs. Two minutes later, she was back down. There was no need to say a word. The expression on her face said it all.
Mendy kept trying to reach his sister even though he doubted she could do anything to help.
5:40: "If they don't pick up now, I'm calling Yedidim," Mendy announced.
They didn't pick up.
Yedidim, a well known organization in Yerushalayim, has made it its business to help Yidden any way possible, at all times. There's always a member of Yedidim willing to help out in any unpleasant or problematic situation.
Mendy briefly outlined the situation.
"Is it your apartment?" asked the volunteer who picked up the phone.
"No, it's my sister's," he replied. He thought he knew what the volunteer was about to say.
"Look, what we usually do in such cases is break the door down. But if it's not your apartment…"
"No, it isn't. Breaking the door down would not be a solution. I don't have my sister's permission to do that nor that of the person she's renting it from. I'm looking for a different solution."
"We don't have a skeleton key," the volunteer said apologetically. "If we can help in any way, call again. We're here."
I had never contributed for a yeshuah, Mendy writes in his letter. I didn't believe in it; I didn't believe that people merited yeshuos because they had contributed. In my heart I scorned the fools who did. I said it was all psychological. They just stopped feeling so tense and then they were able to think of a solution. But then, at ten to six, less than hour before Shabbos, as I stood there in front of a locked door with my entire family – I gave in. There was no choice, nothing else to try. I suddenly understood all those people who had contributed and I prayed that we, too, would merit a miracle.
He promised a certain sum to Kupat Ha'ir if he and his family entered the apartment before Shabbos.
6:00: Feeling a bit more optimistic now that he had contributed, Mendy tried his sister once more.
Finally! She answered the phone!
"We're stuck here in front of your apartment," he told his sister. "The Feldmans went away for Shabbos and we don't have a key! How can we get in without a key?"
Esther watched her husband's expression eagerly but was disappointed to see his frown. His sister couldn't help them. He concluded the call with a heavy heart.
"No one else has a key and there's no other way to enter the apartment. They made sure to lock everything well."
"What are we going to do?" The children were wailing by now. How long could they wait?
6:05: He called his sister again. "Judy, get creative," he ordered her. "Maybe we can climb from a neighbor's window into your window. Maybe… I don't know! Think of something!" He was frantic.
"I wish I could help you," Judy said, feeling terrible. "But there's no way! The windows are locked from inside! What can I tell you?"
6:10: Mendy's cell phone rang. On the phone was Baruch, Judy's husband. "I have an idea. If you go to my upstairs neighbor and step out onto the porch off his dining room, you can jump down to my porch, which is directly below. His porch is a bit smaller than ours. And then you can open my front door from the inside!"
"But I can't do that!" Mendy cried in desperation. "I don't know how to climb! I'm no acrobat. I'm afraid I'll break all my bones. I can ask a neighbor for a cup of water or a tissue, but I can't ask anyone to do something like this for me!"
He went downstairs again to get a better look at the two porches and the distance between them. No, there was no way he could do it. He got dizzy just thinking about it.
There's no solution, he thought to himself. We have to choose between three awful choices: spending Shabbos in the street, asking the people who invited us for the seudos to let us sleep over, too (they have such a tiny apartment…who can receive a family with small children on such short notice?) or going back home and sharing our apartment with the elderly couple we gave it to. Oh, how unpleasant each of those choices is!
6:15: For the hundredth time, he glanced at the bottom porch and the top one, trying to visualize himself removing his suit jacket, climbing over the railing of the top porch and – boom! No, he couldn't. He just couldn't! He turned around to face the street again – and saw his younger brother Dov, who studied at a yeshiva in Yerushalayim.
"What are you doing in this neighborhood?" Dov asked. "This is the first time I'm here on an erev Shabbos. I don't even know exactly how I came to be here. I just left the yeshiva and went wherever my legs led me."
"You're here because the contribution I made to Kupat Ha'ir grabbed you by the collar, pulled you out of yeshiva and dragged you here!" Mendy said with mounting excitement. "Let's go, go upstairs. You're to jump from the neighbors' porch down to Judy's porch and open the door for us. What are you waiting for? It's almost Shabbos!"
Dov was an agile fellow. For him, such a jump was a piece of pie. He measured the distance between the two porches and nodded. Yes, he could do it easily.
The two bothers darted up the steps. At twenty past six, with the first siren sounding in the background, Dov opened the front door triumphantly.
I contributed some more so the apartment would be protected throughout Shabbos, Mendy's letter concludes. We couldn't lock the door behind us when we went out for the seudos, after all. I can no longer deny the truth. I, too, contributed and merited a yeshuah. It still seems surreal to me. I think it's a true chessed from Hashem to allow us a glimpse of his hashgachah pratis. It's incredible – but true. Now I too contribute in order to merit yeshuos.
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