Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Cheshvan 5764 - October 29, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Handyman's Promise
a true story by Sara Carmel

The van came to a screeching halt next to an unfinished, in the middle-of-construction building. The doors flew open as the tired passengers tumbled out. For a moment, all was silent, then the driver broke the trance and in a few words of broken English, asked the adult family members to help him lug out the suitcases from the back of the van. Each one took as much as he could handle, while the driver spurred them on, eager to be on his way. His time was precious; he had to return to his spot at Ben Gurion airport to earn his livelihood. As the last parcel was removed and dumped on the sidewalk, he slammed the door shut and waited for his payment. The father handed over the money with a tip included. The driver deftly counted the green bills and gave a huge smile with a suitable blessing of "Yishuv tov!" and was on his way.

At times, the pains of moving to a new country are unbearable, but coming to Eretz Yisroel makes every struggle and hardship seem all the more worthwhile for earning and deserving the merit of residing in the Promised Land. It is the only place, they say, where every step one takes adds credit to one's account.

All eyes turned upwards to the fourth floor, their new home. The shutters were closed. They did not know what awaited them. Family and friends had arranged their temporary lodging until their apartment, purchased on plan, would be ready for occupancy.

The head of the family made his way down the path, followed by the mother and children. Bogged down with suitcases, boxes and whatnot, the going was very slow. Finally, Dovie broke the silence and said, "Ma, is this our new home?"

The response was a mixture of crying and laughter in one, as Ma smiled through her tears, "Yes, sweetie, we've arrived home, at last."

Dovie was too curious to contemplate his mother's reaction and so his huge brown eyes continued to dart from the clear, bright blue skies to the plentiful reddish sand in every front yard. He dropped his bag and ran to touch and feel it. In seconds, he was covered from head to toe with sand.

"Oh, no!' Tova, his mother exclaimed. She took a deep breath as she tried to extricate him from his new sandbox but her efforts were futile. The energetic four-year-old finally had an opportunity to release all the energy that had accumulated after having been cooped up in a silver eagle for so many hours.

The plane ride had been pretty exciting, as the stewardesses joined the family celebration of Dovie's fourth birthday. It had been quite a scene. They brought some balloons and nearby passengers clapped their hands and sang along. Dovie's short red payos peeking out of his blue kipa danced along as he jumped up and down in his seat.

A grandmotherly-looking woman handed him a pink candy and then seeing how his siblings looked on enviously, handed the birthday boy the whole packet (with a reliable hechsher, they ascertained) to distribute as his birthday treat. He was the star of the show.


Yisroel and Tova Segal climbed the stairs, followed by their precious crew. Four flights of steps, no elevator, quite an exercise, especially when one's hands are laden with heavy luggage. They finally reached Door No. 23. The welcome signs plastered all over definitely made a difference.

Dovie and his brothers dashed for the kitchen table, which was set with a nutritious meal. Tova's eyes brimmed with tears of gratitude for the goodness of such wonderful friends and neighbors. There were chairs, tables, beds and all the basic staples of a home. More squeals of joy emanated from the inner rooms and Tova followed her ears to find the kids preoccupied with some games.

"How very thoughtful of them. This will definitely make the next few weeks of summer vacation that much easier," she thought, wondering how long it would take before her lift arrived.

With a sigh of relief, she turned to look at the pile of bags and stuff. She had been very organized, numbering every recepticle and listing its contents in her "Aliya diary/notebook." She reverted to her old self and began firing instructions as to who should put what where.

Within a week, the house began to look homey. Enough, that is, until her shipment arrived. Imagining the family having to travel by sea gave her another reason to be thankful for the smooth settling process.

The vast differences in tastes, mentality and schedule, which she soon discovered, did not deter her optimism. She enjoyed glancing at her children from the window, playing outside with the neighborhood children for a good part of the day, without her constant supervision. They were even coming home each time with an extended Hebrew vocabulary, which they practiced on her, accent and all.

One cool autumn morning, Tova hurried into the kitchen, only to come to a complete standstill upon seeing the sudsy water covering the kitchen floor. The washing machine was the obvious culprit. She tried to collect the water into a pail with a rubber sponja stick and rag, and alternatively, with a stick and dust pan, yet the puddle did not seem to get any smaller. Frantically, she knocked on her neighbor's door, hoping she would have a better solution to this dilemma.

Ahuva, Tova's benevolent neighbor, nodded her head in understanding and quickly accompanied her neighbor. Armed with her own sponja stick, she brought along a paint scraper. Tova's brow furrowed anxiously, hoping that Ahuva had understood her broken sentences.

Half an hour later, the tired pair sat down in the nearly dry kitchen to drink a well-earned cup of coffee. Tova's features relaxed as she made a mental note of the new lesson she had learned that day. Ahuva, with the assistance of the paint scraper, had deftly lifted up the cover to the water drainpipe in the bathroom which Tova had not even noticed, and together, they had shoved the water down the hole, sparing her a needless backache from collecting and squeezing all the water.

Ahuva contacted Chesky the fix-it-man for emergency fixing. He promised to come at the first available slot. Unfortunately, that materialized only thirty-six hours later. Tova did not complain; she had come to terms with the term "savlanut," as the pill she had to swallow before any operation is executed to its fullest. But the moment Chesky walked in, she knew her machine was in good hands. His demeanor depicted authority, dependibility and gentility, the latter trait not generally found in blue collar workers back home.

Chesky quietly asked for the source of the problem. She led him to the washing machine on the laundry porch but was astounded when he refused to follow her steps and remained behind. She grew flustered and could not fathom what was wrong.

He pointed to the door and said, "All you have to do is buy a kosher mezuza, hang it up and your machine will start working."

He picked up his tool case and headed for the door.

"Wait," she said. She thought perhaps it would be wiser for her to ask Ahuva to serve as translator. There must have been a misunderstanding.

In a minimum of words, Ahuva and Chesky exchanged the update of the situation and then he was gone. No fee charged for the visit...

Ahuva smiled and repeated Chesky's instructions and promise. "I can vouch that whatever he says is usually true. He is a very special man."

Within a few hours, Yisroel had affixed a brand new mehudar mezuza upon the doorpost of the laundry porch.

Tova slowly but surely approached the washing machine, apprehensive and curious. It was truly amazing how the machine started, filled with water, giving no indication of any problem whatsoever. She immediately called Chesky to fill him in on the news.

Chesky did not say, "I told you so." He calmly wished Tova all the best, leaving a bewildered woman on the other end of the line, altogether amazed at his character and skill. He sure was an expert fix-it man, or rather, general diagnostician.

Another story to add to her Aliya diary/notebook, which she titled, "Only in Israel!"


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