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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

Kefitzas Haderech

This story can be heard firsthand between 8:00p.m. -11:00p.m. Israeli time call: 011-972-50-4181368.


“Well, Ernst, what’s happening with the building?”

Suzanne’s tone of voice was clearly impatient. How many times could you remind someone, nudge him, plead with him? It was now more than a year that Ernst was saying, “I have a customer but he wants documentation that I don’t have yet.” In the meantime, the building was standing empty. It was such a shame, especially since they could really use the money.

“Maybe you should actually do something about the matter instead of just talking about it?” Suzanne asked petulantly.

“Go look at the blue folder on my desk,” Ernst retorted angrily. “A million documents, I tell you, a million! And still it’s not enough.”

“When something’s important to you, you manage to arrange it overnight. All of a sudden, when it comes to selling this building – your hands are tied. Devote one whole day to getting the matter taken care of and get it over with. There’s a limit how long you can drag out the sale of one building.”

“I’ve already devoted lots of time to the matter,” Ernst assured her. “Each time I was sure I had finally arranged what had to be done.” He went to get the blue folder and tossed it to his wife. “Every time I thought I was done, new complications cropped up. It’s like Pharoah’s frog in Mitzrayim. You deal it a strong blow but instead of dying, a whole bunch of new frogs are created. It’s incredible. French law is unbelievably strict with these matters. The clerks who issue the necessary licenses must have undergone thorough training courses in how to suck the blood of people who need their help. There’s no other explanation.”

Suzanne shrugged unhappily. Documents and more documents. What was the big deal? Every day, thousands of buildings were sold in France and a thousand new ones were put up for sale in their stead. Real estate offices did a brisk business and huge real estate deals were clinched every day. Why did only their building have to encounter so much trouble? Why did only their building have to suffer from the idiosyncrasies of French law?

“Does five hundred thousand dollars mean so little to you?”

“Does my office mean so little to you? Do you want me to sacrifice my office for the sake of this building?”

Suzanne said nothing but her facial expression made it clear she felt that if she were the one running the show, everything would be different.

In the end, however, even Suzanne gave up in despair.

In France, as anywhere else, no intelligent buyer would purchase a building without valid deed documentation. But unlike in many other countries, the French government refuses to grant documentation for a building that differs even slightly from the original plans. Even minor internal changes invalidate the building for authorization.

In this case, the building, which she had received as an inheritance from her dearly departed parents, of blessed memory, had undergone various changes. The building had four stories, each of which had two apartments in which various tenants had lived over a period of many years. Each tenant had made changes in accordance with their needs. Now, returning the building to its original state was proving to be very complicated.

At first, Ernst had thought that cosmetic changes would be sufficient. He quickly arranged for these changes to be made and requested the necessary documentation from the recorder of deeds. But the documentation was not provided, although a sharp reprimand was. Ernst hired a contractor to rip down walls and build new ones in accordance with the original plans, but it hadn’t occurred to him that the electrical system would have to work in accordance with the changes. His request was denied for the second time. This time, he hired a professional whose field of expertise was preparing buildings so that they would be eligible for government approval. He did everything exactly according to instructions but he soon learned that he still had a long way to go.

Approval for electricity, approval for gas, approval for the heating system and approval for appraisal. Approval for the engineering, approval from the municipality regarding the payment of old debts… every day there were new demands.

“I can’t handle it anymore,” Ernst said to his wife. “Would you like to try?”

Suzanne agreed to try. She couldn’t stand the foot-dragging any longer. Every day Ernst told her that he was about to obtain all the necessary documentation and then they’d be able to sell the building for an excellent price. She was afraid that the building would earn a reputation as “problematic” and then no one would want it.

Bracing herself for a long haul, Suzanne accepted responsibility for the project. She cleared her busy schedule and began running around from one office to another. She spoke to city clerks, government clerks, real estate advisors and even a private attorney whose signature she hoped would speed things up. Wherever she went, everyone promised to help. Wherever she went, she had to sign documents for which no one seemed to understand the purpose. She dealt with vociferous arguments and carefully collected document after document. After a while, she began to fear she would go mad.

“I made lots of progress,” she old Ernst one evening, exhausted after a particularly hard day. “I’ve definitely furthered our cause. But I’m beat. I can’t deal with it anymore. Now let’s see you have a go at it again.”

Ernst had no choice but to accept responsibility for the project once again.

Negotiations began anew. He sat in the offices of lazy clerks and waited in long lines. He missed days of work and received endless aggravation. Every time he received an important document, he was informed of a number of new rules and regulations stipulating the need for yet more paperwork.

He felt he was on the brink of insanity. “I can’t go on with this anymore,” he told Suzanne. “There is no end to this! My business is suffering. I’ve wasted so much time and energy only to receive another list of documentation I need to provide. I don’t intend to even bother any more. Forget about it.”

“But we’re talking about five hundred thousand dollars!”

“No,” he said, wearily. “We’re talking about chasing a mirage. Just pretend we don’t own a building.”

“Is there really no way?”

“Well, maybe, but it’s a long, tough, twisting way and I’ve walked it long enough. I’m sick and tired of it already.”

Suzanne fell silent and swallowed a huge lump of disappointment in her throat. Ernst said nothing. He, too, longed to see the building sold already. He, too, wanted the income his wife’s parents had left them. But what more could he do? He had done everything that could be done al pi derech hateva.Al pi derech hateva.

The words buzzed in his ears. He had tried everything al pi derech hateva but there was something he could do that went beyond teva.

“You know what, Suzanne?” he said. “If the matter is resolved to our satisfaction within a short while, I’ll give the ma’aser from the sale to Kupat Ha’ir. Maybe the cries of the poor people in Eretz Yisrael will move things along in Shamayim and Hashem will hear their prayers. We, apparently, don’t deserve special siyatta dishmaya, but they do.”

“Ma’aser to Kupat Ha’ir. That means…”

“It means fifty thousand dollars. That’s a nice sum, isn’t it?”

“Should I call and tell them our decision so that they’ll try extra-hard for us?”

“What do you think, they have an office in heaven where they’ll give you protektzia? It doesn’t work that way.”

“Stop being so cynical. I meant to ask them to submit our names to the rabbanim to ask them to daven for us at Amukah or the Kosel or I-don’t-know-where, somewhere auspicious for parnassah matters – I’m sure there is some such place. That’s what I meant.”

“You can call if you like, if it makes you feel better. Personally, I think the merit of tzedakah is enough, but however you see fit.”

“Okay, I’ll call. Let’s see what they can do for us.”

She didn’t even have a chance to make the phone call before the matter was resolved. Less than 24 hours later, there was a knock at their door and the long-awaited document arrived by registered mail. There was no mention of documents not yet signed. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Twenty-four hours!

“If only I had known” Ernst said in frustration. “If only I had known! Why did I have to go through the nerve-wracking experience of trying to arrange everything myself? I could have promised the money right away and saved myself hundreds of hours of fruitless running around. Why was I so foolish?”

“So that you would know to appreciate the greatness of the miracle,” Suzanne replied, utterly delighted. “If we hadn’t gone through what we did – how would we have known how special it is? We thought getting government approval would be simple. Now, after the endless runaround we endured, we understand that we merited a true kefitzas haderech miracle.”

She’s right, isn’t she?

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