Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Double Hiddur
a story by R. Chadshai

"Which refrigerator can you recommend, Mr. Leibovich?" asked a young couple after taking a tour of the well-stocked electrical supply store, deliberating before the large choice.

"As you can see, we have a few models: The one in front of you is excellent, but it doesn't use its volume to its best potential. The one to its left, is very popular, but it has a relatively small freezer section. The refrigerator behind it has a rather nice design, but it has a rather limited lifespan. And the one next to it, well we don't have enough experience with it. In general, when buying a refrigerator, you have to pay attention to a number of important points, first of all . . . "

"Do you have a brand X washing machine?" asks a veteran housewife whose washing machine has met its end.

"Oh yes we do, Mrs. Cohen. The first one in this line, I wouldn't recommend to you, as there have been some complaints about it. You no doubt need a work horse!"

Mr. Leibovitch's reputation as the owner of the electrical supplies store preceded him. He was one of the successful merchants. His honesty and integrity gave him a good name and a reputation of being trustworthy. He never recommended a brand that wasn't good, in order to get rid of it, but only, sincerely, because he wanted the customer to be completely satisfied.

"Hello," two smiling couples of parents entered the store, apparently in-laws who had come to purchase appliances for the young couple. "We've come to inquire about basic appliances for a young couple."

"First of all, Mazal Tov! May they build a solid home and may you have much nachas from them!" Mr. Leibovitch congratulated them, happy to see that more and more couples were meriting to build a bayis neeman b'Yisroel.

While it's true his expression was always one of joy, in his heart, he was worried. Tamar, his youngest daughter, had already turned 23 and she was still awaiting the right shidduch when most of her friends had already become mothers. "If only I could already merit seeing my daughter come in here to happily pick out the electrical appliances for her home," he would think to himself.

It wasn't that there hadn't been offers, but they wanted the best and they were especially sensitive owing to the fact that they had means. They were very wary of those they suspected had eyes only for their money. Mr. Leibovitch and his wife cried oceans of tears, praying and hoping. But outwardly, they tried to project calm and tranquility at least for the sake of their daughter Tamar.

When Berger the matchmaker had suggested Tuviah Gross from Haifa to Mr. Leibovitch, a splendid boy from Yeshivas Chayei Torah, he was afraid he would need a lot of convincing. Not because of any defect, Heaven forbid, in the personality of the young man but because he was orphaned of his father.

"This young man," Mr. Berger explained, "even though he's a great talmid chochom, a masmid of the first order, an exceptional baal middos, in spite of all this he has no special monetary demands. Of course it's accepted practice that a boy of his stature receive a four- room apartment in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak but he has his own values. Perhaps because he is an orphan, he feels that no one owes him anything. Davka because he's so absorbed in his learning, davka because he's purified himself with good middos, he is willing to make do with a little and even for this, he knows he should give thanks."

Mr. Leibovitch had his own ways of checking out the boy. Aside from the usual information, he would personally come to the Yeshiva without the boy's knowledge in order to get an impression of how he learned and how he prayed. Something impressed him about the appearance of the modest boy, who would be one of the first to arrive to pray. From his secret vantage point, he stood for a long while, enchanted by the boy's prayer. He also came late at night, stood at the entrance of the Beis Midrash, looked inside and saw that he was one of the only ones still there bent over his gemora, learning sweetly, refusing to part from it.

Soon enough, the engagement of Tuviah and Tamar was celebrated and everyone came to congratulate Mr. Leibovitch. "He deserves to marry into a family with money!" People said. "Here he won't be missing anything!" Mr. Leibovitch, on his own initiative, committed himself to buying a completely stocked apartment in one of the projects. It was decided that, at the beginning, the couple would rent near the parents and only later would Mr. Leibovitch buy the apartment.


Alex Vladomeerski, a new immigrant from Russia, two years in the country, had come with Vera, his old mother. Here, in Israel, they lived under deplorable conditions and their financial situation was most difficult. Sometimes he would look into the city's large green dumpsters to discover there some real finds. "What people throw away today," he would say to himself when he would see a broken chair that needed a new leg refitted. In fact, he was able to "furnish" his basement apartment by a daily perusal of the garbage. Small renovations netted him an armchair, a dresser, a table and three chairs and he delighted in his "treasures."

He earned his living in a similar way. When they didn't have a penny in their pockets, he would tour the market and gather the fruits and vegetables that had rolled onto the road before being trampled by pedestrians or run over by passing cars. He would collect dry bread that had been put on the fence and would bring it home to his mother who would prepare delicacies. Mr. Leibovitch hired him out of pity. He offered himself as a porter and for almost a year worked alongside Boris, the veteran worker ready and willing to do any task requested of him.

"Alex!" Boris turned to his colleague in the morning before the boss, Mr. Leibovitch, had arrived. "It looks like the display has thinned a little. Am I mistaken?"

"You definitely see correctly!" Alex answered. "Yesterday, when I was in the storeroom, Mr. Leibovitch asked me to take some appliances with a few, small hidden defects from the display: a refrigerator, stove and oven and a washing machine, and transfer them to an apartment that was rented for his daughter. Why is he giving them inferior merchandise?"

"I mind my own business," Boris said. "I'm sure he has his reasons!" Both were quiet went Mr. Leibovitch entered the store. They noticed something was different about him lately. His mood wasn't so great. They felt he must be going through something.

"Maybe it's about his daughter who's getting married soon? She's the youngest at home and he's probably very close to her," Boris whispered.

"So why did he give her appliances only from the display?" Questioned Alex.

"I don't know what to tell you," Boris shrugged his shoulders and returned to his work in the storeroom.

The wedding date was set for a few days after Tish B'Av and the wedding was relatively modest. It was obvious that Mr. Leibovitch was proud of such a chosson. After the week of Sheva Brochos, life returned to normal. Tuviah began Elul at Kollel and Tamar began organizing her home. Only then did she notice that the appliances she had received weren't packaged.

"I can't understand why the appliances we received aren't new," she told her husband. "When Alex brought them up, they weren't packed like they normally are, they were even a bit dusty. I didn't say anything to my parents. My married brothers and sisters received completely new appliances, so why shouldn't we?"

"I'm sure there's a good explanation," Tuviah replied, "even if you don't know what it is. It doesn't bother me. In my opinion, nobody owes me anything and I have to be grateful with all my heart for whatever I get and not ask questions or want more!" Tamar smiled. How true!

"It seems that there's something bothering my father," Tamar said to her husband one day, "He's not the same."

"It's possible that as his daughter you can notice these slight differences but if he wanted to share with us what he was going through, he would definitely do so. It's not our place to ask."

One day between Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur, during working hours, Leibovitch took a moment when there weren't any customers to leave the store saying he'd be back soon. He returned a while later holding a small package from which he took out a nice looking esrog box.

"This is a present for my son-in-law for Succos," he explained to Alex. The day after Yom Kippur when Mr. Leibovitch was passing the four species market in the evening, he found an esrog mehudar. He already had one, so he decided to give the esrog to his son-in-law Tuviah. He arrived home, placed it carefully into the box and wrote his son-in-law a heartfelt dedication.

"I can't thank you enough," Tuviah exclaimed emotionally when he received the gift, "What an exquisite esrog and what an impressive box!"

"There's no need to thank me," apologized Mr. Leibovitch clearly uncomfortable. "You deserve much more, it's just a small token, with no connection to our appreciation for you my dear son-in-law!"

On Hoshanah Rabbah, Tuviah returned from prayers, completely absorbed in a sugiah he had been trying to work out for a few days. Not noticing a pair of eyes following him, he entered his home and asked his wife to make a blessing on the four species which she did and placed them on the table. She made breakfast and took it into the succah on a tray.

From the moment Alex had seen the lovely box that Mr. Leibovitch had bought for his son-in-law, he desired it for himself. It looked very expensive and if he were to get his hands on it, he would be able to vastly improve his financial situation. He still had the address of the young couple, from when he brought them the electrical appliances.

During chol hamoed, when the store was closed, Alex was free. He had done his homework in the meantime. He noticed that Tuviah's succah was on the closed balcony at the corner of the apartment. After Tuviah entered the house, Alex waited a few minutes. Then he put his ear to the door and when he didn't hear any noise, he understood that they'd gone to the succah. He gently turned the handle of the unlocked door, peeked inside and saw the esrog box. Slowly, he sneaked inside, grabbed it and exited without leaving a trace.

Only later, when they were packing to go to Tuviah's mother for Shemini Atzeres, was Tuviah surprised to discover that the box and esrog were both missing. When Tamar heard the cry that escaped his lips, she ran over to see what had happened and saw him standing in the living room white as chalk, holding the lulav, hadassim and arovos but the esrog and its box were gone. A search of the house yielded nothing, as if the earth had swallowed it whole.

"Look," said Tuviah, reasonable as always, "Anyway, it's the last day of yomtov; we can keep the matter hidden from your father for now, maybe a miracle will happen and we'll find the box. Even if we don't, why should we upset him?" They didn't have to make a lot of effort to hide it since they were in Haifa for Simchas Torah and right after the chag, Mr. Leibovitch announced suddenly that he was going with his wife for a two to three week vacation abroad. It was a bit strange for them to be taking a vacation immediately after the holiday, when everyone was returning to routine, but of course, they said nothing.


Alex ran home as fast as he could. According to the weight of the box, there appeared to be something in it. When he reached home and opened it, he was surprised to find some kind of lemon inside. He put it in the small refrigerator in the corner. In the meantime, he wanted to get rid of the box as soon as possible and offered it to a few of his Russian friends as a pure silver box. Those interested examined the box and gave him a reproachful look: "Alex, you're not going to con us, the box is silver-plated and isn't worth much, maybe a tenth of what you thought." Disappointed, Alex decided that at least the box could decorate his home. When she got home, his old mother discovered the "lemon" while looking in the fridge. She felt the fruit and smelled it repeatedly and held it to her heart while closing her eyes emotionally.

"What's this?" she asked pointing to the esrog.

"I . . . I found it," Alex stammered embarrassed.

"And what's the box in your hand?" She demanded. "How did you get it!" Alex understood he'd been caught. Every time he had gotten her food or things, she had been happy and had never attempted to find out where they had come from. And now she was upset. He told her the whole truth about how he had stolen the lovely box. Tears filled her eyes.

"This . . . this reminds me of something. Once my father had one like this, what was it called? According to the special smell I know that it's an esrog. Even as a young girl, I remember how my father was happy when he found the "treasure". He would hide it in an old box in a secret place and would bless it, trembling from its holiness. My father also used to build a succah but it was hidden so it wouldn't be discovered."

"What, Mother?" Now it was Alex's turn to be surprised. "You mean to tell me that you're Jewish?"

"Yes. Alex, and so are you. I thought that Judaism had already disappeared from the modern world, that Communism had succeeded in wiping out every trace of Judaism but I've discovered that there are still observant Jews around and I think that now is the time for us to return to our roots."

That day Alex and his mother did an about-face in their lifestyles.

A year passed. Mr. Leibovitch noticed, to his great happiness, the gradual change that Alex was undergoing and encouraged him as much as possible. It appeared that working in a chareidi place had had a good effect on him and for this reason alone, it had been worth hiring him.

It was once again Erev Succos. Mr. Leibovitch bought a pure silver esrog box and waited for his daughter and son- in-law to arrive to give it to them. Alex passed and froze on the spot. Then he asked permission to leave the store for an hour. In the meantime, Tuviah and Tamar entered the store and were shocked when he presented them with the beautiful esrog box. It seemed that word of the box's disappearance had reached him.

"I must apologize to you, my dear son-in-law. Last year, I gave you an esrog box which was a simple silver-plated box. Now, I can reveal to you why I did it. Perhaps you'll also understand other things that puzzled you then. After your engagement, I invested a significant amount of money in buying electrical appliances but it became clear that I was the victim of a crook and my entire investment was worthless. While I was trying to figure out how to recoup the fraud, it was discovered that your mother had a medical problem and she needed an urgent operation abroad that cost several tens of thousands of dollars. That was the reason that we went on "vacation" at such an unusual time. I couldn't ask for help because it was unthinkable that the public should catch wind of it. My situation was very bad. On the outside, I acted like everything was fine but the truth was that I was at an all-time low. In order to raise the money for the operation, I took loans from every possible gemach and I barely held on. That's the reason, I still haven't bought you an apartment and I gave you electrical appliances from the showroom.

"When yomtov came, I couldn't give up buying my dear son-in-law an esrog box so he shouldn't suspect. I couldn't afford an expensive box so I had to buy a cheap, silver-plated one. But now, Boruch Hashem, my prayers have been answered, my financial situation has improved, there are nice profits, the debts have been paid and now is the time to keep all my promises and commitments. First of all, I'm giving you a beautiful silver esrog box and the rest will come, G-d willing."

Tamar and Tuviah exchanged significant looks and Tamar said,"We didn't want to tell you, Abba, but last Hoshanah Rabbah, the esrog box disappeared from our home. We didn't want to upset you and we decided to keep it from you."

Tuviah added with a smile, "Perhaps now is the time to admit that I immediately realized that the box was silver-plated and not pure silver but I really didn't care. I didn't think for a moment that I deserved more. I was grateful for it with my whole heart and didn't tell Tamar, in order not to upset her."

Mr. Leibovitch was moved. Alex, meantime, suddenly ran in panting and put the silver-plated esrog box on the table and inside it an old withered esrog. In tears, he explained about the theft and how through that esrog, he and his mother had merited to embrace Judaism once more. Since then, he had completely done teshuvoh but he had totally forgotten that he had to return the box to its rightful owners.

"I wholeheartedly forgive you and give you the box as a present!" Tuviah said.

Mr. Leibovitch took out two beautiful esrogim mehudorim from his drawer and gave one to Tuviah and one to Alex.

"And what about one for you so that you can fulfill do the mitzvah of taking for yourself the fruit of the citrus tree?" Tuviah asked cheerfully.

"An esrog mehudar, one can easily get," answered Mr. Leibovitch. "But I have already merited a rare and valuable treasure, a son-in-law who is the most mehudar, whose splendor increases from year to year.


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