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

I Contributed But Did Not See a Yeshuah

Rabbi S is the principal of a successful private cheder in a chareidi city in Eretz Yisrael. As the manager of an institution, he must travel abroad rather frequently to raise funds. Many people envy principals for the power and influence they wield on others, for their ability to decide the fate of children and their families by agreeing or refusing to allow a child to join their school. Very few people consider the tremendous amount of effort that the principal’s self-confident demeanor belies. They know nothing of the deliberations, the difficulties, the awesome burden of responsibility weighing on his shoulders. They cannot begin to imagine the difficulty of coming up with the cash to distribute dozens of salaries each month. How many of those envious people know about the many long hours he spends crammed into an airplane seat? How many of them appreciate the exile he imposes on himself from time to time, the time spent away from his family, the humiliation he suffers, the feeling of disappointment when, after “spitting blood,” he returns home with less, always less, than he had hoped to raise?
Rabbi S never indulges in a business class ticket. The money for his tickets comes from the contributions he receives; how can he waste that money on something not absolutely essential? His wife sees the matter differently. “What’s so terrible if you’ll be slightly more comfortable throughout the long flight? It can only be good for the cheder if you feel better at the end of the flight.” But he just can’t bring himself to fritter away the difference in price.
Sometimes, when he leaves and returns within the same week, which requires the purchase of an expensive ticket (a trip abroad that does not include an over-the-weekend stay is considered a business flight and is more expensive), he can receive a business class ticket for a nominal additional fee. But he doesn’t do even that. Din perutah kedin mei’ah and even a small sum is too much for him. However, when he has such an expensive ticket, he tries his luck and asks to be upgraded to business class. Sometimes, it works. A frequent flier like himself is entitled to certain privileges. The difference in price is so small that sometimes the airline is glad of the opportunity to ease the crowding in economy class and transfer customers like him to business class, which is usually half empty.
Once, after a long and tiring trip in economy class, Rabbi S felt he couldn’t handle more. He was moving on in years and the strain was proving too difficult. When he was abroad, he felt the need to make use of every minute of his stay; when he returned to Eretz Yisrael, he had to attend immediately to the never-ending pressures of his job as a principal. He felt as though his life was a merry-go-round whirling around at top speed and he couldn’t get off just for a moment to catch his breath. He had to ease some of the strain on himself. He had to. He recalled what his wife had been telling him all these years, her dire predictions of what would happen if he kept on working himself to the bone. She was right: the sophisticated machine that took him everywhere was beginning to show definite signs of wear and tear. His back, his shoulders, his head – nothing was the way it used to be. Flying affected him adversely, there was no doubt about that. With a sense of resignation, he decided to be a “good boy” and purchase a business class ticket the next time he flew.
Before his next flight, Rabbi S faced the same conflict as usual, only this time, the voices urging him to fly business class were stronger than ever. Should he give in to his previous decision and pay for such a luxury when he was barely eking out a living for his family? He couldn’t do it. Should he purchase an economy ticket as usual and then waste precious time recuperating? Unwise. Give up on the flight altogether? Out of the question.
Rabbi S felt the internal battle depleting his final reserves of strength. What was the right thing to do? Since he was planning to remain abroad over a weekend, he couldn’t even hope for an upgrade to a business class ticket.
In the end, he decided to contribute NIS 180 to tzedakah and daven to Hashem to help him have a seat in business class without paying an additional fee. True, he had a cheap ticket, but that wouldn’t make any difference to Hashem. If Hashem decided to answer his prayer, even the cheap ticket would be upgraded. That would be the best possible solution, but since it was a miracle-solution, one he could not expect to occur naturally, a contribution to Kupat Ha’ir was the best way to achieve it.
At the airport, Rabbi S asked to upgrade his ticket to business class.
“Sir, this is a low-priced ticket,” the clerk replied, as expected. “Such tickets are never upgraded.”
“Still, please try,” Rabbi S said confidently.
The clerk shrugged and typed in the code for an upgrade request. Sometimes confirmation comes through immediately; sometimes it takes a little while. Rabbi S waited patiently on the side. The moments ticked by. Time was running out.
Rabbi S was disappointed. He’d placed too much trust in his contribution. Every few minutes, he looked at the clerk questioningly, only to see her shake her head and spread her hands in the classic “I told you so” gesture. His request had not been approved.
Rabbi S went to board the plane. He tried to feed his ticket through the machine but it was not accepted. He showed it to the clerk to find out what the problem was. She glanced at the computer and exclaimed, her eyes wide with surprise, “Sir, your request has just been approved! You need to go the line for business class!”
With an effort, Rabbi S refrained from showing his pleasure in public. His completely illogical request had been approved. He was flying business class! Baruch Hashem! The trip was much easier for him. Rabbi S managed to work and get some sleep. He disembarked feeling much better than usual. His body didn’t ache. This was the way it should be.
When the time came to plan his next trip, and the internal battle was about to begin again, Rabbi S knew what to do. He contributed to Kupat Ha’ir and added a brief, pleading prayer. He couldn’t bring himself to spend money earmarked for tzedakah on an expensive ticket but he couldn’t handle a long flight in economy class, either. What was he asking for? Just a little bit of siyata dishmaya, that was all.
The clerk didn’t give his request – he had a cheap ticket again – even one percent chance of being approved, but she typed the appropriate code into the computer as he asked. No response arrived. When it was time to board, Rabbi S fed his ticket into the machine and waited for it to be ejected.
No such luck! The ticket was processed smoothly.
So it didn’t work this time, Rabbi S thought to himself. Deep down, he had known such a possibility existed, of course, but he had preferred to feel that he was heading for a sure miracle. Biting his lip in frustration, he went to his seat, which turned out to be sandwiched between two others. It doesn’t get any more uncomfortable than this, he thought worriedly. His traveling companions were uncouth in appearance and speech. In between ravenous bites of tuna sandwiches, they discussed their plans for the flight. Rabbi S. felt his insides churn. Wasn’t it bad enough that he had to fly economy class; did he have to be seated between these two? He rose and took a walk to the kitchen, trying to escape the overwhelming smell of tuna and get a grip on his disappointment.  

When he returned to his place moments before takeoff, he found someone seated in his place.
“Excuse me sir, this is my seat.”
“No, sir, it isn’t. This is my place.”
Rabbi S withdrew his ticket and showed the man, black on white, that the seat in question was his.
To his surprise, the fellow withdrew his ticket with equal confidence. Both tickets bore the same seat number!
They quickly alerted a steward and showed him the problem. It was almost time for takeoff and the flight was very full. The steward referred the problem to a higher-ranking member of the flight crew. A few moments later, Rabbi S was told that his ticket had been upgraded and would he please switch to business class.
At this point, the plane was already on the runway. Now it had to retrace its path and reconnect to the ramp. Accompanied by the astonished looks on the faces of all the passengers on the plane, Rabbi S disembarked in order to re-board on business class.
You don’t have enough emunah, Rabbi S berated himself as he settled into his comfortable seat in business class. For the Ribono shel Olam, delaying the plane and making it return to the ramp in order to get you into business class is no big deal. The only problem is that you’re spoiled; you have no patience to wait for Him to work His miracles.
He accepted his own admonishment and made some firm resolutions for the future.
“Contributing to Kupat Ha’ir really yields results,” he told everyone he met over the next few weeks. That was one of his resolutions – to publicize his story. Pirsumei nisa is a mitzvah in its own right. He had no idea what was yet in store for him.
It wasn’t long before Rabbi S had to fly abroad again. Before leaving to the airport, he made a contribution to Kupat Ha’ir and girded himself with an extra measure of bitachon. This time, too, he’d make it onto business class one way or another. He felt as calm as if he had a business class ticket in his pocket. He didn’t forget to daven, of course, making sure to “apologize” for his lack of emunah the previous time and once again reminding himself of his resolutions.
This time, though, as if to test the strength of his emunah, nothing happened.
The clerk typed in the code for an upgrade as he requested but the machine in the boarding area accepted his ticket without ado. His request was not approved. Rabbi S found himself in economy class, wedged into an uncomfortable seat but he wasn’t worried. Any minute someone would come along and demand his seat. Maybe they’d announce his name over the PA system; maybe the pilot himself would show up and personally accompany him to business class – something had to happen. He’d contributed to Kupat Ha’ir, after all, and offered up a brief prayer to the Master of the World. But nothing was happening! Rabbi S refused to despair. The plane wasn’t in the air yet. Anything could still happen.
But the plane took off, completely oblivious to Rabbi S’s unfulfilled expectations, placing Rabbi S in an emotional turmoil. He felt anger rising up inside him. Anger at whom? He couldn’t tell, at first.
Anger at the airline? They didn’t owe him a thing! He had purchased a cheap ticket, one he knew was not eligible for an upgrade. What did he want from them?
Anger at Kupat Ha’ir? Kupat Ha’ir had never promised its contributors a yeshuah. Yeshuos come from Hashem only and no one can promise things in His Name. Rabbi S was no fool; he knew that tefillos are not always accepted. Sometimes, they’re not accepted at all, as when a person is wearing sha’atnez. Sometimes they’re accepted but not answered for the person’s own good and sometimes they’re answered in a way the person himself doesn’t realize. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is King of the world and He, in His incomprehensible wisdom, arranges events. Who was there to be angry at, then?
Rabbi S realized that he was angry at himself. Why had he been so gullible? Why had he so shallowly thought that just because he’d twice been lucky after making a contribution to Kupat Ha’ir, he was guaranteed to be lucky the third time around, too? He had no answer.
He felt scornful. Scornful of himself, of his shallow childishness. What’s gotten into you? Did you think the contribution “works” on its own? Chas veshalom. That was tantamount to kefirah, apostasy. Contributions have no supernatural powers, he knew. They merely increase love and fondness between Am Yisrael and their Father in Heaven.
But why did you feel such a sense of confidence? Where are your values; where are your principles; where is your logic? Scorn.
You very conveniently channeled your emunah and bitachon according to the results you wanted and you were foolish enough to think that you really believed. If you really believe in Hashem, allow him to run the world the way He sees fit. If He wants to accept your request, He will, and if He does not, He won’t. What do you understand of the way Hashem runs His world?
After scorn, Rabbi S felt frustration. If you thought you needed to fly business class for your health, why did you buy an economy class ticket? Why were you so stingy? Why couldn’t you view the situation from a broader point of view? You’re not a baby.  You’re the principal of a cheder and a lot of responsibility lies on your shoulders.
Frustration was followed by exhaustion, both internal and external, accompanied by regret. He should have been smarter. Next came self pity. He had twelve hours of flight time ahead of him. Many thoughts passed through his mind during those twelve hours. He conducted lots of mental negotiations with himself, all the while willing the flight to just be over already.
When the plane finally landed, Rabbi S rose along with all the other passengers and prepared to disembark. Suddenly, a distinguished-looking gentleman with a short, silvery beard approached him. Rabbi S, his experience honed by years of fundraising, immediately pegged him as a wealthy man.
“You’re Rabbi S, aren’t you?” the stranger asked in Hebrew, his American accent unmistakable.
“That’s right,” Rabbi S replied in surprised. He didn’t know the gentleman; he was sure of that. He had a good memory for faces and he was certain he’d never set eyes on the man before.
“My grandson attends your cheder,” the stranger said as they waited to disembark. “It’s been six years now. I often receive letters from you asking me to contribute, but I’ve never actually done so. Shall I tell you why?”
Rabbi S recognized the gentleman’s grandson’s name immediately. He knew the grandfather to be a very wealthy person. He had always been disappointed at the lack of response to his repeated letters. If wealthy grandparents refuse to support their grandchildren’s schools, who would? At some point, though, he had stopped placing his trust in man. It is a privilege to give. Not everyone merits that privilege.
“I’ll tell you why,” the gentleman went on. “I never contribute blindly. I work hard for my money and baruch Hashem, I do well. But I don’t like to give it away to people looking for an easy ride. You might not agree with my approach, I know,” he added at the sight of Rabbi S’s face, “but that’s the way I feel.”
“When I received your first letter, I wanted to contribute,” the wealthy grandparent continued. “After all, my grandson attends your cheder. I felt I owed you a debt of gratitude. I made some inquiries and was told that you often fly abroad. Someone mentioned that you fly business class. That didn’t sit well with me. Do you understand? I can afford to fly business class but I don’t because I feel it’s a waste of money. The idea that the principal of a cheder would take money I contributed and fritter it away on an expensive airline ticket irked me terribly. That’s why I didn’t contribute and that’s why I completely ignored your letters whenever I received them.
“But now,” the man went on, pausing for a moment to build suspense, “I see that what I heard is not true. You fly economy class. My grandson has been attending your cheder for six years: I want to give you a donation for all those years right now.” He withdrew a checkbook and an elegant pen and quickly filled out a check. He tore out the check and stuck it into Rabbi S’s hand.
“My grandson’s very pleased,” he concluded. “Thank you very much and best wishes for continued success.” And with that, he was gone, not waiting for a thank-you of any sort.
Rabbi S stood there, check in hand. He was afraid to open it. How much was it for? A hundred and eighty dollars, as befit a wealthy but frugal businessman who never flew business class even though he could well afford it? A thousand eight hundred, because after all, this was a donation for six years? Eighteen thousand, because that was what he was hoping for? How much?
With a folded check in one’s hand, hopes can reach sky-high. In a moment he’d open it and his bubble of hope would burst.
Rabbi S felt like a little boy who couldn’t bear the thought of disappointment. He knew he was indulging in fantasy – but it was oh, so hard to snap out of it.
Berating himself for his foolishness, he opened the check. Sixty thousand dollars. Sixty thousand dollars for six years. Sixty thousand dollars.
It took Rabbi S a moment to digest what he was seeing.
Sixty thousand dollars!
And he would have lost it had his contribution to Kupat Ha’ir “been accepted” and his ticket upgraded!
I contributed and did not receive a yeshuah?
You decide!
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