History Repeats Itself
In these times, when it is harder for everyone to make a living, let's pay more attention to our friends: listen to them, encourage them, be considerate. Give more tzedaka and help. Read an unbelievable, true story of such a person...
Translated from Rabbi Arush’s feature article in the weekly Chut shel Chessed newsletter. The articles focus on his main message: “Loving others as yourself”.
The Expected Phone Call
This is a true story, and it happened very recently. I heard it directly from the person to whom it happened – a student of mine.
He knew that phone call was going to come. And indeed, it did. He knew what was going on, and, like everyone else, he too heard that the prophecy of Chazal that the cost of living will rise in the ikveta demeshicha (literally – the “heels of the Mashiach”, meaning the time before Mashiach comes) – is coming true. Friends told him that their rent went up significantly. Prices have been going up all over the country, and particularly in the more desirable areas. He lives in Jerusalem – the desirable area par excellence. He knew that it is very possible that his landlord will raise the monthly rent he has to pay.
When he saw the landlord’s name on his phone, he already figured out why he was calling. “Look,” said the landlord. “We like you. You pay on time, but, you know, prices are going up for us too etc. etc. and the contract is about to end, and we are considering raising the rent by 500 shekels in the next contract…”
He accepted this with understanding and love, and ended the conversation. This student rents an apartment in Jerusalem, but he himself also rents out an apartment in a different, also very desirable city. The tenants are a young couple, and he charges them a significantly lower rent than the rent prices in that area, which have gone up a lot since the signing of the first contract with them.
The Unexpected Phone Call
The student’s heart wouldn’t let him raise their rent. He had suffered greatly from landlords, and he told himself: “What is hateful to me, I won’t do to my tenants.” Apartment renters live with uncertainty, and before signing the last contract they had wanted to know in which direction the wind was blowing. He had soothed them and had said that he did not intend to evict them from the apartment, and gave them the option for another year at the same price.
True, everything is getting more expensive, and the interest rates are going up; the mortgage is going up, as well as the price of gasoline and other necessities. Money is losing its value, and my student would have been totally justified if he had raised the rent. But he remained faithful to his principles.
And then, one day, his phone rang. It was the tenant. He answered, thinking that perhaps there was some problem with the apartment that needed taking care of. After they greeted each other, the tenant got down to business:
“Look, all our friends are telling us that their rent is going up, and we thought to ourselves that you too are a renter, and most probably your monthly rent is being raised, and you have many children, bli ayin hara, and we know that the rent you charge us is more than fair. Therefore, we want to add to the monthly payment, starting not from the next contract, but right now.”
I am doubtful if there was ever such a conversation. That a tenant should call the landlord and, on his own initiative, suggest raising the rent?
My student was very moved by this, but he absolutely refused the offer. “Yasher koach to you for the thought and the sensitivity. Indeed, my rent is being raised, but I had no intention of raising your rent and I will not take a larger sum from you under any circumstances. You are a young couple. Save up your money so that you will be able to buy and apartment in the future, with Hashem’s help…”
The tenants argued and demanded the right to give the landlord any sum equal to the one that his own landlord adds to the rent!
A Phone Call From the Creator
I emphasize once again that this is something that really happened, because it sounds unreal… The person to whom this happened told me this himself and he too did not believe that such a thing could happen. Beyond the fact that this is a wonderful act of ahavat Yisrael (love of Jews), it also strengthens one’s belief in Divine Providence, and particularly in the matter of finances – that there are no mistakes and it is not natural.
People go around crying and complaining: Everything is so expensive. I don’t have enough. The landlord doesn’t take the situation into consideration, and even uses it to his advantage. What can I do? I have no work, my salary is low, no one cares, the government, the Minister of Finance, the housing crisis, there is no one to help me, etc. etc.
Reread this story and think: If a tenant thinks about his landlord and is concerned for him and for his family, in spite of the fact that the way of the world is that tenants view landlords as exploiters and try to lower the price as much as possible – how much more so the Creator of the World, who is our Father and loves us, and knows exactly what we are going through. He knows that the prices are rising. He knows that we are experiencing difficulties, and He certainly is not abandoning us to our fate. Rather, He is thinking about us and taking care of us and will not have us lack for anything. Hashem feeds and provides, both before the price rise and after.
You can see this story as a personal phone call to each and every one of you. The Creator of the World is on the line – your Father in Heaven. And He is calling you and saying, “My dear son, my dear daughter, I know that your landlord is raising your rent. I know that your mortgage is going up as well. I know that filling the gas tank is much more expensive than it was. I know that you leave the supermarket with the same wagonload, but with a much larger bill. I know everything. And I am concerned for you, and I am willing, and want to – indeed, I yearn to give to you and fulfil all your needs, all that has become more expensive. Don’t worry. Be strong. I am with you!”
Time for Love
Another message, no less important: We are now in the days of bein hametzarim, during which we mourn the destruction that was caused by sinat chinam (baseless hatred). In these times, when it is harder for everyone to make a living, we should pay more attention to our friends: listen to them, encourage them, be considerate. Give more tzedakah and help others more. Such a story adds to the merits of the Jewish People and is one more row of stones in the building of the Beit Mikdash.
A legend tells of two brothers who had two adjoining fields. One had a large family, and the other was single and childless. After they harvested their fields, collected the sheaves of wheat and made a pile of the grain, each one of them lay down to rest but tossed and turned, unable to sleep.
The single brother thought: My brother has so many mouths to feed, and I, I have no need for all this wheat. I will get up in the dark and transfer part of the wheat secretly from my pile to my brother’s…
His brother, too, who had a family, thought about his lonely brother and wanted to give him some support and make him happy. He thought: I’ll get up in the dark and transfer part of my yield to my brother’s barn without his knowledge – at least he will be able to be comforted by his success and abundance, and perhaps he will be more desirable as a husband because of his wealth…
And so, both of them rose in the middle of the night and went happily, carrying their sheaves of wheat – and met midway… Each one saw the other, and immediately understood his pure motives. They fell on each other’s shoulders and cried, so strong was their mutual love.
The legend says that Hashem saw this and chose that place of meeting to be the place of the Temple, forever!
Dear fellow Jews, that’s all we needed now – elections. As if the baseless hatred already among us is not enough. This is the time to increase one’s ahavat Yisrael. Instead of arguing and belittling and hating, we must be merciful towards everyone, love everyone, pray for everyone. Have pity, give in, help and mainly not shout at any Jew, and of course increase goodness and chessed in this world so that we will merit to repair all the sinat chinam and witness the building of the Beit Mikdash with mercy, speedily in our days.