July 11, 2018
Beis Moshiach in #1126, Life on Shlichus

When it comes to Ahavas Yisroel, what are proper limits? How can family life be preserved while reaching out to every Jew? What happens when a mekurav can have a negative influence? * Ofra Bedosa spoke with two women, one far away and one in Rechovot. Yael Kripor is a shlucha in Cusco, Peru and Ruth Mifi has an open home on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim.


Yael Kripor is my sister. When this topic of Ahavas Yisroel on shlichus came up, I knew she had to be part of the conversation. For her, this is a daily challenge in a way that is not really familiar to us. For her, there is hardly any separation between shlichus and life.

“The difference between our shlichus and shlichus within a community is that mekuravim in a community have their own homes and lives. With us, nobody here has a home; they are all touring. When they need something, they come to us. Girls who don’t feel well come to me, and when I ask them what happened, they start to cry.

“When a passport is stolen, the tourist will come to ask us what to do. When a package is stuck on its way to Eretz Yisroel, they will ask us to help. When a relative in Eretz Yisroel dies, they come to us for comfort. Parents come to us when, lo aleinu, a child of theirs is killed in an accident here, etc. Just now, there is a girl who is hospitalized after an appendix operation. She is here alone; she has no one. We go and visit her, send her food and whatever she needs, and we are in touch with her parents.

“The tourists here are not familiar with the procedures in the country and we help them deal with the local governments, hospitals, etc. Throughout the day we get texts, phone calls, emails. Shlichus in Eretz Yisroel is nothing like this. When a person over there is in trouble, he usually has to whom to turn.”

During my conversation with Yael, she sent me samples of texts that she got from tourists just that day on Facebook, WhatsApp and email. She sent me about twenty long correspondences.

How do you manage? Where do you set the limit?

“It’s not easy, but that’s the way of life here. At a busy time at the Chabad House or when the request is outrageous, I simply say I cannot help with that. But most of the year, when it’s calmer, the policy here is to say, ‘yes,’ and to help. This is how we get people here. They know that they can leave packages, backpacks, etc. It gives them the feeling of home, of a place to return to. It’s amazing to see their reactions when we do not accede to their request; they are often really disappointed. They consider us like family and hope that we can help them in any situation.

“I have six biological children and hundreds more who keep on changing. Sometimes, the demands can be unpleasant, but if you look at it properly, it’s amazing.”

The Kripors’ Chabad House is a huge house with an inner yard. The first floor is for the public. That’s where the restaurants, shul, kitchen, and so on, are. On the upper floor is the family’s quarters.

“This way, we can be part of the activities while still being able to disconnect from the hubbub and preserve our family life. But even in our private home there is always ‘extended family’ of another 10 bachurim, tourists, and volunteers who are in Cusco for a longer period of time.

“In most cases, they feel part of the family and they walk into our house without knocking. I’m used to that. Very often it is very helpful, mainly when my husband is busy with sh’chita or giving courses outside of the Chabad House. They watch the baby and play with the children. Most of the time, it’s very nice.”

It’s not hard for you not to have privacy?

“In order to live like this and be happy, you need to make a mental switch. It took me time. At first, it really wasn’t easy and I always felt put upon. It’s an entirely different definition of your personal and family space. Without changing that internal definition you cannot live in a place like this. And yet, there are times when the house is just for us.”

Would it be better if you lived outside the Chabad House?

“If I’m here already, then I prefer to be here all the way; it’s simply the type of shlichus it is. We work to maintain proper boundaries so that the intensity of the work does not impact too much on the family. For example, at the Shabbos meal, I only go downstairs to hear kiddush from my husband and then we have the meal upstairs with people who are closer to us. This way, I have time for the children, to read and spend time together. It’s funny because there are times when tourists look askance that the children and I eat upstairs, but I don’t care. That’s our boundary to preserve sanity.”

To give you context and perspective, the Shabbos meal at the Chabad House in Cusco has 300-400 people and the small family meal might have 40.

“Without changing that internal definition you cannot live in a place like this.”

Are there parts of shlichus that you think can adversely affect the children?

“It can happen with negative influence from people who come to the Chabad House. When that happens, I find a way to get it to stop. There was a tourist whose family tried very hard to connect him to us. At first, I said we would try to include him, but when I got to know him a little more, I saw that it was out of the question. Although his family continued to try, I stood firm. It’s something you learn to do, over the years, with experience. There were some very extreme situations when we had to tell someone not to come to the Chabad House anymore, but that is rare.

“Fortunately, people aren’t here for long because they are touring, so their presence makes less of an impact. In addition, I think the children feel that we are here to give and have an influence and that makes them understand that we are in a different position than all of the visitors to the Chabad House.”

What happens when the needy individual only sees himself?

“There are situations in which people need something from me and do not respect the space that I share exclusively with the children, when a tourist comes with something that is urgent for him and does not care that my baby is crying or I’m in the middle of something with my children. And there are times of the year like before Pesach when the tension and the work is so great that it’s impossible to deal with anything else. Even the children during those times know that they need to go with the flow.”

From what I can see, the children are very happy and developing nicely on shlichus.

“Right! One of my children is shy by nature and has developed a lot of confidence here. He always wakes up early and sometimes I hear him running things outside like any shliach, referring tourists to the doctor, etc. Tourists are very taken by this. I often see how my children are the most influential on the tourists. Tourists are not used to seeing children who are so involved and helpful.”


I got to see Rabbi Efraim and Mrs. Ruth Mifi’s Shabbos table right after I got married. At the time, we were living in Rechovot and Ruth cornered me very quickly, “So, when are you coming to us for Shabbos?”

I fell in love from the very first time, with the atmosphere, with the warmth, the holiness, the family spirit and more. We still go to them now and then. Each time, the experience is uplifting.

When you go to the Mifi home, there is an entirely different feeling, something that is associated with the sweetness of days gone by, which is hard to find today: sincerity, holiness, simplicity, truth … And every Friday night, many guests convene at this special home, who want to absorb this atmosphere. And the very long table is full with lots of goodies, materially and spiritually.

“The beauty of our Shabbos table,” says Mrs. Mifi, “are the guests. They are the jewels in the crown. Often, when we part from guests at the end of the meal, I thank them. They give me an odd look because they don’t understand that without them, our Shabbos table would really be lacking.

“Our guests are all kinds of people. We can have a judge or professor from the Weitzman Institute sitting next to a person who is down and out. They all come and partake of Shabbos. I never make calculations when I invite people; we are always inclusive. With the Shabbos preparations too, I always make the same things. I don’t prepare more because a certain guest or another is coming. If my husband or I go away for Shabbos, we still host. There were times that our youngest son, who is a Tamim in yeshiva, did a great job running the Shabbos table.”

In their home, every guest says a D’var Torah. People know that if they’re going to the Mifis, they need to prepare something. “Boruch Hashem, everyone speaks up and it creates a real Oneg Shabbos, like paradise. In the summer, we can finish the Shabbos meal after two in the morning.”


What do you think your hosting provides for your children?

“It is a chinuch experience without the need to say a word. We put a lot into the preparations and everyone is a part of the mitzva from the big ones down to the little ones. The effort put in is really boundless and they are all part of it: preparing, serving, honoring the guests. When guests come, the children welcome them happily, talk to them and at the end of the meal escort them out without my having to ask.

“In our community, our children are greatly loved because they are, Boruch Hashem, very warm kids. It’s part of chinuch – to be nice to people, to welcome guests. It’s something daily in our home; not once in who knows how long. They do it out of genuine love.”


“It took me thirty years until I became assertive,” Ruth swallowed a smile as she answered my question about setting limits with guests.

“It takes time until you get the courage and enough life experience to set proper boundaries. Generally speaking, I will never point anything out to a guest who comes just once. I was always afraid about making a guest feel uncomfortable. In any case, if there is a situation where I have to say something I do it person-to-person so as not to embarrass anyone. But I’ve seen over the years that there are things that have to be protected, boundaries are needed.”

Ruth then delineated her boundaries:

“First of all, I insist that the Shabbos table be as it ought to, full of k’dusha. If there is too much chatter, we pleasantly make sure to stop it so it’s possible to hear the Divrei Torah being said. It is very important to us to properly convey the values of the Shabbos table, that we do not talk about mundane things and we listen to and enjoy holy things.

“If elections or a big event is coming up, we do not bring it up at the Shabbos table. Likewise, anything to do with Chassidim and Misnagdim, Meshichistin and non-Meshichistin are non-topics. I always say that at our Shabbos table we talk about things of holiness and unity and nothing else. Thanks to this policy, Jews from a variety of sectors can come to us, from those who are not yet observant to Misnagdim.”

Have you had situations in which you didn’t invite someone again?

“It happened one time and it was an extreme situation in which someone behaved inappropriately and on top of that, brazenly lied to me. I had no choice.

“There are times that guests can do things that we wouldn’t do at the Shabbos table. For example, a woman decided to divide up T’hillim to be said in the middle of the meal. I had to tell her that is not the sort of thing that we do here.

“We also have guests who feel so at home that they open the doors to our private quarters, which is very disturbing.

“A woman once came with her mother for Shabbos, for meals and sleeping. They came with many baskets and bags. It was odd, but we didn’t have time to think about it because we were busy preparing for Shabbos. When Shabbos was over, we understood their intentions.

“These ladies decided to camp out permanently in our house. It was a difficult time until, thank G-d, they left. I guess it’s the price you have to pay sometimes when your house is open. But the price is low compared to the spiritual benefits that we get every single Shabbos.”

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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