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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

Honor Thy Father

The rain kept pouring down in sheets. It seemed as if it would rain forever. Four people huddled inside the car, not knowing where to turn.
“Maybe we should just settle down to spend the night like this?“ asked the son, soaked to the bone and shivering with cold.
His father shook his head. “Ima needs her medication. You know, for her heart.“
He knew.
“Besides, after the exertion of packing and the flight, we need a good night's sleep. We're not youngsters anymore.“
Once again, everyone peered out the window into the darkness, trying to come up with some sort of a solution – to no avail.
They had landed in Switzerland a few hours earlier. The elderly parents, especially the mother, were not in the best of health. Every year in the winter, their married son took them to Switzerland for a few days to relax against the backdrop of some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.
“These four days do more for Ima's health than any medication or doctor,“ the father would tell his son gratefully. “I know it isn't easy for you to get away. It can't be easy for your wife to handle everything on her own while you're away. But if you only knew how much Ima and I appreciate it, how much stronger and better we feel afterward, you would know that this trip is the biggest kibbud horim you could possibly do.”
So the son kept up the tradition. Every year, he rented a villa facing stunning scenery, planned excursions suitable for his parents’ physical condition and made arrangements for tasty, kosher food. They were away for only four days but those four days gave them strength for the entire year.
But this time something had gone wrong.
Maybe it was a mistake to land at night. They had planned it that way because they’d hoped to go directly to sleep and begin the following day refreshed and rested. The pouring rain that greeted them dampened their enthusiasm somewhat but thanks to the son’s meticulous planning, a rented car was waiting for them.
The son drove carefully to a certain hotel where, according to the plan, the key to the villa they had rented would be at the reception desk. They had arranged it this way because the hotel was open 24 hours a day, so they could pick up the key at any time.
The key was in fact at the reception desk. But the clerk glanced at the sheet of paper with the address and shrugged. “This address is in a remote area somewhere. I can’t tell you how to get there. I’ve never been there myself.”
They consulted a map and located the area but the son still felt unclear as to how exactly to get there.
“You know what?” the son suggested. “Call us a cab. We’ll follow in our car.”
But that wasn’t an option. Taxi drivers in a small Swiss village retire for the night early. Not a single driver answered his phone. The only taxi company in the village was closed for the night. It wasn’t tourist season and there was no reason for anyone to be working a night shift.
“Okay, we’ll set out and look around,” the son said. He was worried. The pouring rain and thick darkness – there were practically no street lamps – did not make the situation any easier.
The car drove down the darkened streets, splashing through puddles. “We’re going in circles,” the mother commented. “We keep driving up the same streets.”
The son drove a bit further. Every so often, he stepped out to glance at the street signs but he couldn’t find the street they needed.
“Maybe we should try a different hotel,” the father suggested. “Maybe the clerk at a different hotel will be able to direct us.”
They tried. They located a different hotel on their map and drove over. The son stepped out of the car once more, leaving his parent's and son in the car. The gate was locked. Through the window, he could see the clerk at the reception desk. He was fast asleep.
He rang the bell, waking the clerk. The son apologized for disturbing him and explained the situation.
The clerk actually knew where the street was located. He took a sheet of paper and drew a clear map for the son to follow. The son sighed with relief.
“I apologize once again for waking you,” he said uncomfortably. “You see, my parents are no youngsters. My mother suffers from a heart condition. Her medication is in her suitcase and it’s raining so hard that I can’t even look for it.”
The clerk was gracious and understanding and the son left with a light heart, having no idea that it would still be quite some time before his search came to an end.
Now the trip was short and smooth. With the map spread before him on the steering wheel, the son steered the car through the winding roads. He drove through the same streets he’d covered before but this time, he didn’t miss the small but important turn. They now found themselves on the right street, as indicated by the sign on the corner.
“I can’t wait to get out of the car,” the mother said. “I feel every bone in my body.”
“What number is our villa, Abba?” the grandchild inquired.
“Number 4.” He located number 2 and prepared to park the car near the next villa.
“But Abba, that one is number 6!”
The grandchild was fully alert. His father looked up and furrowed his brow. His son was right; the sign read number 6. So where was number 4?
The street was dark and empty. The houses seemed to be scattered haphazardly about.
The son stepped out into the rain again and examined all the houses. Each villa was surrounded by thick hedges. Dogs barked.
I hope I don’t open the wrong gate, he thought to himself, his discomfort increasing. We must find our villa already. What an obstacle course!
He found houses number 1, 3, 5, 9, and 13. He found also numbers 2, 6, 10, 12 and 16. But there was no number 4! It just wasn’t there. He walked up and down the street, to the car and back, his clothing drenched despite the umbrella he held in his hand.
Every so often, he returned to the car to warm up for a few minutes before setting out again.
“It’s got to be here somewhere,” they kept telling themselves. The other numbers were all there; number 4 had to be there, too. He’d been given the keys to the place, after all. It had to exist! But logic was of no help to them, of no help at all.
At some point, out of despair and helplessness, the son began trying to open all the doors he saw, no matter the numbers. Either someone will open the door and show me where the house we’re looking for is located or they’ll call the police on me. Very well! Let the police help us out!
But no one woke up. Even that hope was washed away in the rain.
The mother was feeling terribly unwell at this point and the father wasn’t faring well, either. The son’s tension increased with each passing moment. Utter silence reigned; the only sound was that of the incessant rain.
They were careful not to make noise. They had been told that the area was populated by non-Jews, some of them anti-Semites. “Don’t make any problems,” the agent had told them. “Don’t do anything that might cause a chilul Hashem. Be quiet, cultured and well-mannered. Act respectful and don’t disturb the peace.”
The warnings were superfulous. They hadn’t come with small children, after all, nor were they rough or noisy people by nature. But if they considered for a moment knocking on one of the doors, they rejected the idea immediately. Everyone was fast asleep; that much was obvious.
“I’m going to try one more time,” the son said, on the verge of collapse. He didn’t know what he’d do if he couldn’t find the villa but there certainly was no point in prowling the streets in the rain over and over again.
“You know what?” he said suddenly. “I’m going to contribute a hundred shekels to Kupat Ha’ir. It certainly can’t hurt.”
And he left the car again. He passed each house, checking the numbers. 2, 6, 8 – there was no 4! 3, 5, 7 – no 4!
Suddenly, a light went on in one of the windows. A man in a checked pajama peeked out. “What’s the matter?” he asked, speaking Swiss-German.
“We can’t find number 4,” the son replied in English.
“Wait a minute.”
Oh, Hashem – please. Would this man help them out? Had he been woken from his sleep? He didn’t appear to be angry.
The door opened. The man stood there, barefoot.
“What seems to be the problem?”
“We can’t find house number 4! I checked all the houses on the street and there is no 4! My parents are in the car. They’re elderly people, not in the best of health. They need their medicine and they want to sleep.”
The man shrugged his shoulders. “There’s no number 4, you say? That can’t be! I’ve been living here for years and I’ve never heard that joke. Just a minute.” 

The door closed behind him as the son waited outside, wondering what the man intended to do.
A few moments later, the door opened again. The man was fully dressed now, complete with boots and a thick winter coat. He was holding an umbrella and a flashlight.
“Let’s go,” he said to the son, who was standing there in shock. “Let’s find house number 4.”
“I didn’t mean to inconvenience you like this,” the son protested in despair. “It’s raining hard outside. Just tell me where it might be.”
“It could be anywhere. Let’s go see where it really is, not where it could be.” The man paid no attention to the son’s discomfort. He opened his umbrella and switched on his flashlight.
“Strange,” he murmured to himself. “But I guess if it isn’t on the main street, it must be on the side path.” In the darkness, he made his way to a narrow path that wound its way through the trees.
The son stared. He had walked the path leading from one house to another more than twenty times but he had never noticed that the path continued further. It was completely hidden, surrounded by tall, thick trees.
“Where are you taking me?” he asked after a few minutes of following his guide through the darkness. He felt as though he were in the middle of a thick forest.
“You wanted house number 4, didn’t you? I’m taking you to where there are a few more houses that belong to this street.
They circled the mountain upon which the neighborhood homes were scattered, reaching its other side. Among the trees, the son could make out a few pointy roofs. The villas were barely visible. They were impossible to spot from afar, but they were a beautiful sight from up close. The non-Jew shone his flashlight on the area. House number 4 was the very first one.
“There it is; we’ve found it,” he said. “That’s what’s important.” He turned to leave, the exhausted son trailing behind him.
It had taken them ten minutes to find the house. Now they had a ten-minute walk back to the car, where his elderly parents and his son were waiting. The non-Jew disappeared, shrugging off the words of gratitude with which the son tried to shower him.
“Did you find it, Abba?” his son asked, sticking his head out the window.
“Yes!” his father replied, putting his finger to his lips to remind his son to be quiet. “You won’t believe where it is. I could have spent all year looking for it and never finding it. If not for the man who got out of bed, dressed in middle of the night and walked with me through the rain, we would have had no choice but to spend the night in the car.”
“It wasn’t in our honor that he did all that,” the father said, his voice filled with emotion. “Nor was it in my honor. It was in honor of Kupat Ha’ir!”
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