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.
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

The Kupat Ha’ir Law

“I dropped by just to say goodbye,” Zvi told his wife, avoiding her gaze. “If they… if they decide to detain me, in the end, my mother will come pick you and the baby up tomorrow. Don’t worry.”
“You think they’ll… arrest you?” Sara was on the verge of tears. She’d given birth less than 24 hours ago and the situation was more than she could handle. “I mean, it’s got to be a mistake, so why should they arrest you? Just explain what happened and come back here.”
“I’ll explain, be’ezras Hashem,” Zvi replied, trying to sound confident. “Chances are the mistake will be cleared up and I’ll be free to go. But who knows how long it will take? In the meantime, I received a summons to show up for prison voluntarily. If I don’t obey, they’ll come looking for me. I’m going, but I don’t know how this is all going to end. Hashem will help. I hope they’ll let me go in time for Shabbos, so I can have an aliyah and name the baby.”
“Will we be able to speak by phone?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been a deserter before. I’ve never been arrested. I honestly don’t know.” Zvi glanced at his infant daughter, lying so peacefully in her bassinet. Such timing! And it was all such a stupid mistake. Why did he have to pay for other people’s blunders? But what could he do?
“I can’t deal with this now.” Sara bit her lip but the tears burst forth despite her best efforts. “I can’t deal with having you arrested; I don’t have the strength to worry about you now. Tell them you have a one-day-old daughter, that we have other small children at home and I’m still in the hospital. Tell them this is just not the right time for something like this!”
She knew she was behaving like a child but she was too overwrought to think rationally. Burying her face in her hands, she sobbed out loud. Which new mother can handle having her husband in prison? It was beyond her capability.
Zvi left quietly, his heart breaking. The situation would be clarified in a day or two, he hoped. At any other time, they’d handle it somehow. It wouldn’t be fun, but they’d survive. But now? How could he leave his weepy wife a day after she’d given birth and report to prison? It was beyond his capability.
The whole story was so stupid, he thought to himself as the taxi wended its way to the IDF Reception and Sorting Base. He’d requested a “year of decision,” that was all. His family had grown and he’d had no choice but to leave kolel and get a job, but he wasn’t sure he’d be successful or how he’d feel after spending a year “on the outside.” That was why the IDF had adopted the practice of granting young men like him a “year of decision.” He was not obligated to report for military service during this year; he had twelve months during which to make up his mind. The arrangement was worthwhile for the military; why were they making problems?
He’d submitted a formal request indicating that he wanted to take advantage of his “year of decision.” As a result, he’d automatically forfeited his status as a yeshivah student for the year. Apparently, however, he hadn’t received the temporary reprieve from military service that was his right. Time had passed and now he was considered a deserter!
In his mind’s eye, he heard his infant daughter whimper. He hadn’t even dared pick her up and hold her, that’s how tiny she was. He was going to be a soldier… a uniformed soldier with a rifle!
They’re going to imprison you, not enlist you, logic interrupted. You’re going to be handcuffed and escorted to a filthy cell. Go rely on their ahavas Yisrael. Your suit and hat will determine how much empathy you’ll receive.
The taxi was making good time. He checked to make sure he had everything with him: his tallis and tefillin, a few personal belongings, some kosher food. Go know what they would allow him to take with him into jail. He’d told Sara it was a matter of a day or two, that he’d be home by Shabbos – but the truth was that he wasn’t so sure. The mills of justice grind slowly. Too slowly.
Before disembarking from the taxi, he dialed Kupat Ha’ir and made a contribution. It was a pity he hadn’t told Sara he’d be doing that – it would have soothed her. A contribution to Kupat Ha’ir worked wonders, they said. If only he, too, would merit such wonders…
He approached the gate. A sentry stood guard.
“Where are you headed to?” the sentry asked. “The yeshiva student department is closed to the public today. You came all the way here for nothing. What a shame!”
“I need the recruitment department.”
The sentry waved him through.
Zvi looked around and decided to give the yeshivah student department a try, just in case. It was closed to the public today, he knew, but maybe someone would agree to hear him out. He hurried over and knocked at the door. Through the window, he could see lots of activity going on. The door opened and he walked inside, stopping at the first reception desk. He explained his situation briefly and waited, his heart pounding, to be sent from one person of authority to another.
To his surprise, the soldier he’d addressed personally removed a file from the cabinet behind her. She turned a few pages, checked a date, removed a different file, riffled through that one… yes, she found Zvi’s request for a year of decision. She verified the matter on the computer and saw that a mistake had indeed occurred.
“Whoever processed your letter failed to complete the procedure,” she said apologetically. “She stripped you of your yeshivah student status but forgot to update the system that you are temporarily exempt from duty. It shouldn’t have happened. It’s a shame you have to go through this headache. Here, let me photocopy the letter and make a note of the code they assigned you until now. I’ll make the necessary change as well.”
She typed the information in quickly, moving the computer mouse from field to field. Then she hit the PRINT button, stamped the page as soon as it slid out of the printer and added her scrawled signature.
“You chose a good time to come,” she commented as she stapled all the papers together. “On a day when we have official hours no one would have given you a second glance. We’d have told you to submit a request that we deal with the problem. This way, we got the whole matter straightened out quickly.”
She placed the papers on the counter in front of him and went on to the next task at hand.
Zvi stepped outside feeling greatly encouraged. Now he had to go to the recruitment department and show them all the papers. That promised to be far simpler.
He looked around for a passageway to the recruitment department only to discover there was none. He had to leave and enter through the main gate again.
Leaving was simple, but when he wanted to re-enter, the sentry – a different fellow – stopped him.
“Whaddaya doing here?” he growled.
“I need the recruitment office.”
“Ya got an appointment?”
Zvi withdrew the summons from his shirt pocket.
“You’re a detainee! Why didn’t you say so?” The sentry barked a few short words into his radio. Two soldiers appeared and flanked Zvi on either side.
“I’m not a detainee yet! I have all the necessary documentation to prove it’s a mistake!” he protested.
“Would you like handcuffs as well? We can shackle you, no problem.”
Zvi fell silent. What if the first sentry had treated me the way this guy did? He thought. I’d ever have made it to the yeshivah student department with these two sidekicks!
The three of them made their way together to the recruitment office.
Zvi was sent from one authority to another. Some were nice, some nasty. The two soldiers accompanied him from one station to the next like faithful guard dogs. They went up stairs and back down again. For a moment, he was tempted to say, I don’t feel like walking anymore. Do something about it… He wouldn’t mind if they did the running around for him. But he wasn’t looking for trouble. The image of his wife’s teary eyes remained with him constantly.
“You’re free to go, buddy. You just had the misfortune of falling into the hands of a sloppy clerk,” the top brass informed him. “It’s a good thing you took care of all the paperwork first; otherwise you’d have languished in jail for a while. You’re a real hustler, I can tell you that. If you decide to enlist, in the end, come to us. We could use resourceful guys like you.”
Zvi left with his tallis and tefillin, his personal belongings and the kosher food he hadn’t even had the chance to sample. His feet hurt after all that walking; otherwise he’d have taken the bus rather than a taxi. He deliberated whether to call Sara or simply show up… and decided on the latter. He flagged down a cab, set down his bags and relaxed against the plush seat.
Half a day. He’d gotten off cheap, real cheap. Who would have believed it possible?
If I had gone directly to the recruitment department… he thought to himself with a shudder. And if that nasty sentry had been standing guard when I first arrived… And if the yeshivah student department had had regular hours today…
It’s amazing how everything went so smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. It’s incredible! Usually, as in Murphy’s Law, everything that can go wrong – does! They ought to formulate a new law for cases of the opposite nature.
Zvi may not know it, but there is such a law, and it, too, has a catchy name: The Kupat Ha’ir Law.
Contribute to Kupat Ha'ir
Website owner
Want to contribute in a unique way?
Feature Kupat Ha'ir on your website!

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player