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Wednesday
Jul122017

THE REBBE CHANGED THE ENTIRE PLAN

It is now a decade and a half since the bracha I got for buying the apartment that I live in. We live on the border of Bnei BrakRamat Gan, an area that has gotten more religious in recent years. When we moved in, despite its proximity to Bnei Brak, the building was almost completely populated by people who were not religious. The same was true for the neighborhood.

We were a young couple. One evening, we went to see the apartment where all our children would be born, and we liked it a lot. It’s on the second floor, has frontage on two sides, with trees lining the length of the street, near Rechov Rabbi Akiva, but far enough to avoid being entangled in the hubbub of the religious city that never sleeps. Its proximity to the Chabad shul on Rechov HaRav Kook where I daven on Shabbos and run the Avos U’Banim program for the children of the community, was a bonus.

Gedalya, a fellow with a knitted yarmulke who lives in Kfar Maimon, owned the apartment. He and his brother inherited the apartment from their parents and they handled the negotiations with us, mainly Gedalya.

After three years of paying rent every month to Gedalya and his brother, we decided the time had come to buy our own apartment. We liked the apartment we were renting and thought it would be most convenient if we could buy it.

Gedalya did not want to sell. He liked getting the monthly rent. When we couldn’t convince him, we started looking elsewhere.

We looked everywhere, checking out real estate ads in the B’nei Brak newspapers and signs on bulletin boards. Occasionally we took a walk in the outlying areas and looked up, hoping to see a “for sale” sign. Each time, we walked in a different area.

There are a lot of features that are desirable when you buy an apartment: a good location, a low floor, nice neighbors, conveniences, and of course the price should line up with the amount of spare change in your pocket. Generally, these divergent factors did not align, and the trips in search of a new home became exhausting.

Now and then I tried my luck with Gedalya. “Nu Gedalya, maybe you’ll sell it to us …” but he wouldn’t even consider it. Sometimes he put the “blame” on his wife and sometimes he just said no. At a certain point, we gave up on that idea.

We looked eastward, at Elad, where the prices are lower, the range of offerings is greater, and there is a growing Chabad community. We looked around, made inquiries and found a project with five buildings on the side of a mountain in the upper section of the city, higher than everything else. It was in the advanced stages of construction. It was love at first sight. It was a spacious apartment like I always dreamed of. And in this project, the ceilings were higher than average which increased the feeling of expansiveness. When you opened the shutters (which didn’t exist yet) the view was of distant Tel Aviv. On a clear day, it seemed to me that it was possible to even get a glimpse of the sea. As for the price, it wasn’t stratospheric; we could handle it.

Wow, how great are your kindnesses, Hashem! It was time to sign on the deal. But we had to write to the Rebbe first and ask for his bracha. That is what a Chassid does.

In my letter I wrote in detail of all the headaches we had been through, our attempts to find an apartment in the border regions between B’nei Brak and nearby Ramat Gan, the prices and difficulties, and the bargain of an apartment in Elad which wasn’t far off.

It’s a pity that I didn’t save that letter because then I could quote it, but I remember the content which was clear. The letter was written to someone having difficulty finding a place to live. The Rebbe wrote him that he should remain where he is, closer to Tel Aviv. The Rebbe did not make allowances – “As for your writing that you did not find a suitable place, apparently you did not try enough.”

The truth? It was a bit hard to abandon the apartment with the view to Tel Aviv along with all its advantages, but this is what the Rebbe wanted and therefore, it was best for us. We called and canceled our meeting with the broker.

“Now what?” I asked my wife, and she asked me back, “We start from the beginning again?”

The next day, Gedalya called. He wanted to know why he didn’t see the monthly rent in his bank account.

“Gedalya, what’s the story? How about selling the apartment?” I closed my eyes wearily as a defense against the usual answer.

“Why not?” asked Gedalya.

“What?!”

“I’d be happy to sell the apartment to you. I just have to get my brother’s agreement and we’ll move on it.” I nearly dropped the phone.

After signing the contract, I went back to the letter where I saw that the Rebbe had written explicitly “where you are living now,” not just the city but the place where you are now, i.e., the apartment we were in.

From this episode, I learned that the Rebbe not only charts the course with his answers through the Igros Kodesh, but also confers the strength, a G-dly strength way beyond what we imagine.

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