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

An Electrifying Tale

Summertime bein hazemanim in the holy city of Tzefas. The cool mountain air, the beautiful melodies, the sweet strains of Lecha Dodi rising from the fields… there’s no place in the world quite like Tzfas.
The Schiffer (not their real name) family took all that for granted. They were used to it; they lived in the city of Tzefas all year round. To them, Tzefas was just… home.
Apartments in Tzefas are very much in demand during the summertime. Many families from other cities in Israel are eager to spend a few weeks enjoying the relatively cool mountain air and the close proximity to dozens of tourist sites. The Schiffers were a large family and money was often tight. Shlomo Schiffer and his wife Pnina had decided to rent out their home to vacationers for three weeks; the incoming sum would be a lifesaver. Their family would spend the same three weeks in a tiny, cramped apartment in the Old City of Tzefas left to them by Shlomo’s recently deceased father. They weren’t looking forward to this “vacation” at all. They knew it would be hard, but they had no choice.
When the Schiffers arrived at the small apartment on Friday morning, it was immediately apparent that the place would need a thorough cleaning. Shlomo rolled up his sleeves and got straight to work.
Suddenly, through the running water, he felt an electric shock. He was sure he’d imagined it, but then it happened again, and he closed the water in alarm.
“This is really dangerous,” he said. “There’s electricity in the water! I felt an electric shock, twice!”
Pnina came hurrying in from the tiny kitchen, where she’d been intending to start cooking for Shabbos.
“Maybe it’s from the boiler? If the problem is just in this sink, maybe we can find a solution.” They checked the other faucets. The electricity was there, too. It was impossible to ignore. Shlomo called the electric company, feeling the tough façade he’d been working to maintain begin to give way. It hadn’t been easy to deal with the children’s grumbling, to transport all their stuff, to rent out their apartment – but he’d grinned and borne it. What should he do now? Where should he take his family? A hotel for Shabbos would eat up almost all the rental money he was counting on! And that was if he would find a vacancy. Tzefas was bursting at the seams with guests from all over Eretz Yisrael.
“Shut the main valve,” the technician on the other end of the line instructed him. “Don’t use either the electricity or the water. It’s terribly dangerous! I’m dispatching someone right away.”
Pnina continued unpacking and organizing the tiny apartment. There was hardly any room to move around. The fridge, a relic from a few generations ago, held barely a quarter of a large family’s needs. But a fridge without electricity – well, you might as well put the food in a cabinet. 

There was a rap at the door and an electrician in yellow overalls stuck his head inside. “Are you the ones with electricity in the water? They told me there were children here! Ach, they lied to me in order to make me drop everything and run.” As if by prearranged signal, all the kids appeared and stood in line, smiling sweetly.
The electrician’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets and the entire family burst out laughing. The electrician went to the sink, suggesting that the kids might want to play outside for a wile. Unfortunately, no one took him up on his offer.
“You’re right,” he said to Shlomo Schiffer. “There’s definitely electricity in the water.” He walked around the apartment, sticking his equipment various crevices, concentrating intently all the while. Shlomo and Pnina watched him hopefully. Time was ticking by.
The electrician straightened up. “This apartment is clean. The problem is from a different apartment in this building. I’ll go investigate. I’ll be back to turn your water and electricity back on when the problem is resolved.”
“Will… will that be today?” Pnina asked. She felt as though the air was being squeezed out of her lungs.
“Pray.” The electrician gathered his stuff and left, leaving them in the dark, dirty apartment with no running water or electricity.
“I must say it suits this place,” grumbled Leah’le, their oldest daughter. “Running water and electricity belong to modern times; this apartment is from the Middle Ages.”
The sounds of a loud argument brought everyone running to the stairway.
“I not open door! No! This my house. I don’t know who you are; I don’t know what you want!” The elderly Russian man living in the apartment upstairs blocked the doorway to his apartment. His hoarse voice sounded clearly through the hallway. Then came the sound of a slamming door. The befuddled electrician remained on the other side of the doorway, unsure what to do. He tried knocking again but this time the old man opened the door just a crack. The door was well protected with a safety chain.
“Go away! I call police! No one come in my apartment!”
“The problem’s in his house,” the electrician said helplessly, “but he won’t let me in.” Yes, they had understood as much.
Shlomo tried to talk to the man, but he was suspicious and stubborn. He would not open the door, no matter what. The third neighbor in the building told them that the Russian man had no family or friends. He left his apartment once a week to buy some groceries and that was it.
“The police might be a good idea,” the electrician said thoughtfully. “Your neighbor’s endangering his life; his water’s got electricity in it, too. The police will force him to open the door. They’ve got to.”
No one liked the idea of having the police break the man’s door down. Time was ticking by. Shabbos was fast approaching. Pnina had finished cooking (it was a good thing there was gas… no one was taking anything for granted anymore) with a case of mineral water Leah’le purchased from a nearby grocery, but no one was ready for Shabbos and no one had any idea how to go about preparing for a Shabbos without water or electricity. It sounded like a nightmare.
A few hours passed and the only thing that had changed was that there was now a police car parked in front of the house. The policeman inside had decided that he wanted to wait a little longer before breaking the old man’s door down. Pnina was on the verge of tears.
“Shabbos is in one hour. The technician’s here, the police are here… and nothing’s moving! How are we going to manage without water or electricity?”
Shlomo said nothing. What could he say? Glancing nervously at his watch was of no help; his tension was sky-high as it was.
“Doesn’t it bother the old man to be without electricity or water? They shut his off, too.” Shlomo muttered to himself.
“He probably lived without such amenities in Russia for years,” Leah’le replied. “He doesn’t care. He told the police they would enter his apartment over his dead body. Instead of him being afraid of the police, the police are afraid of him!”
The dark house was depressing. Very depressing.
Shlomo went downstairs to talk to the electrician. It was almost Shabbos. Candle lighting time was jus half an hour away.
“I’m not leaving,” the electrician said. “I can’t leave a house in such condition. It’s dangerous. I have to stay here until the problem is repaired.” The sky was turning crimson but Shlomo couldn’t appreciate its beauty. He was too busy looking at his watch.
“A hundred and eighty shekels to Kupat Ha’ir,” he declared suddenly. “Please, Hashem, help us! I don’t even know what to pray for… it’s almost Shabbos! I don’t want my family to experience a dark and miserable Shabbos, but I’ll accept whatever You have in store for us. I believe that everything is in Your hands and You are all-powerful. Let the merit of tzedakah open the gates of heaven wide.”
It was a moment of extreme closeness to Hashem. Shlomo literally felt the Shechinah envelop him. Whatever happened, he was in Hashem’s hands. Everything had been planned in advance. It wasn’t a glitch, G-d forbid. It was a nisayon, and he’d handle it to the best of his ability. His heart expanded and his eyes swept the area again. The bubble of pressure he’d been feeling dissipated completely.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the technician making a phone call. A few minutes later, a small private pulled up to the curb. A more senior repairman dressed in civilian clothes got out.
Later, the first repairman told him that “according to the rules, I was forbidden to call him when he wasn’t on duty, but when I saw how desperate the situation was, I gathered up my courage and called.”
The higher-ranking technician heard the story, glanced at the policeman sitting in his car and reading the paper and looked up to the third floor, where the elderly man stood at the window, his face hard.
“Maybe, maybe we can do something,” he murmured. “Let’s try.” He and the first electrician approached the nearby electric box and turned some dials. After a few moments, they straightened up.
“I disconnected the third floor. The rest of the building can now use the electricity safely. When the old man decides he wants his electricity back, he can call us and we’ll reconnect him.” His voice was filled with satisfaction.
“You deserve a medal for that brainstorm,” the first electrician said admiringly. “How did you come up with that idea?”
“I don’t know. It definitely isn’t standard procedure,” the second technician replied as he gathered his equipment. A moment later, the apartment on the second floor had electricity and running water. Pnina and Leah’le began frantically doing last-minute preparations. The police car drove away, followed by the white van from electric company. Only the old man still stood at the window, absorbing the final rays of sun.

“So how exactly did they solve the problem?” Pnina asked after candle lighting. She hadn’t had time to listen to the story before.
“One hundred and eighty shekels to Kupat Ha’ir, and the problem was resolved within ten minutes,” Shlomo said, shaking his head in wonder. “There are some things you just can’t believe until they happen to you. The first electrician was here from ten o’clock in the morning – and the problem was resolved ten minutes after my contribution. Can you understand that? I can’t!”
He couldn’t – but he could. He has the merit of joining Kupat Ha’ir’s yeshuos magazine. Like many others who had never believed the “fantastic” stories they read in the brochures, today they no longer have any doubts. Those who believe melechatchilah don’t have to suffer so much tension. They simply contribute right away…
“Suddenly” the electrician worked up the courage to call hissuperior even though it was against the rules.
The senior repairman “just happened’ to be free.
“In a burst of generosity” he agreed to come.
With “great expertise,” he disconnected only the problematic apartment.
We have one phrase to describe all such situations– tzedakah to Kupat Ha’ir, the the tzedakah fund of the Gedolei Hador.
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