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Main > I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation > I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation
I Contributed and Merited Salvation – Stories of Salvation
Every Delay is for the Good
Every Delay is
"Don't you smell something strange?"
Jacky lifted his head from the new plane but he knew he had zero chance of catching his brother's interest. Even if it rained into their house, or a bulldozer ripped the floor out from under them, Fred would not budge. Not while he was reading a book.
Jacky went back to arranging his fleet of airplanes and changing around the location of the control tower and police cars in "his" airport, but the funny smell continued to bother him. Fred kept turning page after page at astonishing speed.
The noises coming from the stairway finally made Jacky leave his planes and go to the door. His mother had given him strict instructions not to open the door while he and Fred were home alone, so he stood on a stool and peeked out through the peephole. People were dashing up and down the stairs, waving their hands and shouting. The steel door muffled the sounds somewhat but it was obvious that something was going on. And the smell was getting stronger.
"Fred! Fred, stop a minute! Something funny's happening in the building," he pleaded. He tried to position himself close enough to shake Fred but sufficiently far away to dodge the slap he knew his brother would give him for disturbing him.
"Something funny's going on in this story, too. I don't…" And he turned another page. The screams on the stairs were becoming hysterical. Someone kicked the door from the outside and shouted. Jacky ran back there.
"Who are you? Why are you banging our door?"
"There's a child inside! A child!" He heard the voices clearly.
"Two children! Fred's here, too!" he shouted back.
Within seconds, Fred was at his side. "Quiet! What are you screaming for? Why are you talking to people through the door? And what is that awful smell?
He peeked through the peephole. Suddenly, he heard an awful roar and saw a yellow flame shoot up the stairs.
"Jacky, the building's on fire! Were home alone! We can't get out!" he shouted. He opened the door and immediately closed it again. A blast of heat hit them in the face. The stairway was like an oven. Tongues of fire licked the railing on one side and the wall on the other. There was no way they could pass.
Frightened to death, they ran from room to room, looking for a way out of their apartment. All the windows had bars; they knew that.
'Let's stand on the bars outside," Fred shouted over the noise of the fire. The floor felt very warm; they felt the heat through their shoes. They opened the large dining room window. A collective sigh of relief was heard from downstairs when their figures appeared.
Standing on the bars, they gulped fresh air and felt better. It was only then that they realized how hard it had been to breathe inside the house. The porches of the buildings opposite their own were filled with people who called out to them encouragingly.
It's a matter of what gets here first, Fred thought to himself in fear. Either they'll get us out of here in time or the fire will get us first. If the shutters become a firetrap and the bars begin burning, we won't last long.
He didn't share his thoughts with Jacky, of course. He hugged his little brother with all his might and thought about how tragic their death would be for their parents. Jacky was so frightened that he was shivering uncontrollably despite the intense heat emanating from the building. A fire engine pulled up opposite their window. A fireman climbed quickly up its ladder.
"We may have to saw the bars," he said to the children. It was hard to hear him over the noise. "Do you hear me, kids?"
"Yes!" Fred shouted back. Jacky was incapable of uttering a single syllable. "Are you okay over there?" Okay? It was hard to call their situation "okay."
At the same time, a frustrated secretary sat facing her computer at the Kupat ha'ir offices in Eretz Yisrael.
"What should I do? Should I try to reach her again? Does she want to contribute or doesn't she?" The situation was so strange!
Wrong credit card numbers happen all the time. It's easy to make a mistake when typing a long string of numbers as someone reads them off to you over the phone, especially when that someone speaks a language that isn't your own mother tongue.
A wrong credit card number during a follow-up clarification call is far rarer. Was the woman deliberately giving her the wrong number because she didn't want to contribute? Why had she called in the first place, then?
The secretary didn't know what to do.
"Besides," she said to the secretary sitting near her, "her phone number is constantly busy or disconnected.
"How much did she want to contribute?"
"A considerable amount." She glanced at the sheaf of papers on her desk, the ones entitled "Problems." "Quite a bit. But that's not the point. People contribute for a reason. Sometimes they want to give ma'aser; sometimes they pledge money for a yahrtzeit or something like that. It's not good if someone promises to contribute and then doesn't follow through."
"Most of the time, people contribute because they need a yeshuah."
"Then they need that yeshuah. Isn't it a shame to forfeit a yeshuah you need so badly just because of a mistaken credit card number?" "It sure is. Try again." And she did…
The woman at the other end of the line had sounded kind and friendly as she apologized profusely for her mistake and gave the secretary the correct credit card number.
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, it is Kupat Ha'ir's practice to offer contributors the option of having a name brought to the Gedolei Hador so they can daven on the person's behalf or to inquire about the significance of a particularly large contribution. The secretary hurried to ask before the call got cut off again. After all, she was rather curious. ""Are you contributing because you need a yeshuah?"
"Uh, no. Not at all. The truth is, I don't really believe in that stuff. I contribute a few times a year in order to feel I've fulfilled my obligation to my poor brethren in Eretz Yisrael, that's all." Her Hebrew was stilted; she hardly ever spoke the language. "I read your brochures and they always strike a very deep chord. These people are my brothers! Blood is not ketchup, you know. We share a bond. I can afford to make a few sizeable contributions a year. But yeshuos? It all sounds a bit too mystical for me, to tell the truth. I've never contributed for a yeshuah."
They concluded the phone call with a friendly goodbye. The generous contributor had no idea how quickly she was to change her mind.
Her car made the final turn before the street she lived on. She heard lots of honking horns and saw the blinking lights of fire engines and police cars. Still faintly amused by the conversation she'd just had with the secretary from Kupat Ha'ir while driving, she tried to figure out what was going on. Suddenly, a traffic officer blocked her way. It was impossible to drive any farther. She parked her car and set out for home on foot. Another few steps and she rounded the corner.
Her heart stood still.
Her building was enveloped in flames. Huge fire engines were squirting jets of water all over the place. A crowd had gathered below. People were screaming and waving their hands in the air.
Her eyes swept the building, searching for her own apartment. There, on the bars of her dining room window, stood her two boys, Fred and Jacky. They were holding one another tightly against the backdrop of flames.
"My contribution to Kupat Ha'ir saved my children's lives," she told us tearfully. "The contribution was made at just the right minute. The fire went from one apartment to the next but it didn't touch mine. They stopped it just in time. My contribution saved my house, too.
"It's not just that," she went on. "I believe that Hashem delayed my contribution time after time, in such a strange way, so that I would be contributing at the most critical moment when I needed a yeshuah and didn't even know it – just to prove to me how wrong I was. Contributions to Kupat Ha'ir bring about yeshuos; there is no doubt about it!"