Our first Shabbos leichter was an inexpensive brass model we bought from the Queens Judaica store managed by our beloved uncle, z”l. It served us faithfully until we made aliyah a year later. Then we traveled to Bnei Brak and purchased a stunning pair of silver candlesticks, in a simple yet elegant Yemenite design.
Years passed and our family, Baruch Hashem, grew to include five beautiful children. We made the trip to Bnei Brak again, this time splurging on a five-stemmed candelabrum in the same lovely design. Ironically, shortly after our purchase, we received the wonderful news that I was pregnant once again.
Soon after the birth of our sixth child, we moved abroad temporarily. The following year, we welcomed number seven to our mishpacha. Then we returned to Eretz Yisrael for a phenomenal Sabbatical year, ultimately making a commitment (for a minimum of three additional years) to accept another position chutz la’aretz as a mechanech.
Our eighth, ninth and tenth wonderful children, Baruch Hashem, joined our grateful family in rapid succession. We decided that we were ready to add another five-stemmed leichter to our silver collection, but could not locate locally a coordinating one. After researching the name of the artist who had designed our candlesticks, we enlisted the aid of my parents in order to track down and buy the new leichter for use in Eretz Yisrael. They would transport it in their luggage when they came to the U.S. for a visit.
Unfortunately, although the candelabrum was a close, though not identical, match to our first one, it had suffered considerable damage during transit. Two of the five arms had cracked, and one was bent at an awkward angle. We went to a number of silversmiths to have it repaired, but our efforts were unsuccessful. The candelabrum remained hopelessly mangled.
B’chasdei Hashem, we were finally zoche to return to the Holy Land and reestablish our life there. Needless to say, we brought along our entire extensive silver collection, including the broken leichter.
When we were reasonably acclimated and had settled into our new home, we decided to resume our efforts to have the expensive but virtually useless piece repaired. We were advised that our best course of action would be to locate the artist and rely on his expertise. After an exhaustive search, we found a silver manufacturer bearing his name in the port city of Old Yaffo. We set up an appointment, and my husband and I made a day trip out of it.
Alas, it did not take us long to realize that the style of the silver Judaica in the showroom had nothing in common with our candlesticks. Although the names of the two artists were nearly identical, we had again reached a dead-end. However, instead of bemoaning the fact that we had schlepped quite a distance for nothing, my chivalrous husband suggested that we make the most of the situation and spend some time enjoying the quaint sights and the sea air. He even went so far as to find a mehadrin fish restaurant and order a lunch of what was probably the freshest fish we had ever eaten. In the end, we were able to partially salvage that otherwise disappointing afternoon.
At that point, however, we utterly despaired of ever having our once magnificent leichter repaired.
That is, until the oft-proven principle of “Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin” came through yet again. And its sheer perfection left no room for any doubt whatsoever that it was indeed Divinely orchestrated.
A lovely family moved to our block, just two houses away from ours. We soon discovered that, aside from being wonderful individuals and neighbors, the husband was an experienced silversmith. In fact, his father and grandfather had been well-known silversmiths as well.
In a last-ditch attempt, but without getting our hopes too high, we handed him the four pieces of our battered leichter. Within days he returned it to us, whole and virtually perfect in every way. As an added bonus, he had lacquered it to a sparkling luster and assured us that no polish would be required for years – if not decades – to come. To top it all off, he refused payment for his services.
As promised, he delivered our transformed silver candelabrum on Erev Shabbos. In all the years that we had owned the leichter, that was the very first time that I was able to light all five of its candles. It was also the debut of our matching candelabra set, without assorted glass candleholders pinch-hitting for the missing branches. Licht-bentching and our Shabbos licht held an extra aura that Shabbos, and our long and circuitous journey had finally reached its “bright” and happy conclusion. Who would have ever dreamed that after years of searching and frustration the elusive treasure would be found right in our own backyard?
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