It had been our fervent dream ever since we had left, kicking and screaming, and certainly since we had reluctantly sold our piece of the rock several years later. We knew in our heart of hearts that we would eventually return. We likewise knew that we would then need something to return to.
So at every possible opportunity, in the years after we left the Promised Land and ultimately sold our home there, we visited the Holy Land and spent virtually every waking moment searching for another apartment to buy. No matter whether it was only on paper or already built, we had a passionate desire to acquire a dirah in Eretz Yisrael, which would facilitate and practically guarantee our eventual return.
Our poor daughter well remembers her highly-anticipated bat mitzvah trip with us to Israel, that unfortunately fell far short of her expectations. Instead of being wined and dined and feted as the occasion demanded, she found herself sloshing through muddy puddles with her frenzied parents, searching endlessly for the perfect apartment. (Note to self: You still owe C an authentic Israeli falafel.)
After logging countless miles and touring dozens of building sites, we finally did locate the apartment of our dreams in a largely Anglo neighborhood that would presumably be suitable for our family.
However, like all Israeli real estate agents we had dealt with over the years, our realtor sold us not only an apartment, but apparently a bill of goods as well.
“This is the ideal location for you,” he assured us, unequivocally. “Your neighbors will be just your type.”
No matter that he would have said the exact same thing to every potential customer, be they Sephardi, Ashkenazi, chassidic, or Mizrachi. Perhaps we can be melamed zechus that realtors are effectively color-blind in this respect, due to their overwhelming sense of ahavas Yisrael that perceives no differences whatsoever between Jews of all persuasions. Or perhaps they are simply blinded by their overriding desire to make a sale.
In either case, we naively bought it, hook, line and sinker. Likewise we eagerly purchased the apartment and awaited its completion from our physical location some six thousand miles away.
Our agent had also repeatedly pointed out the impressive shopping mall that was already in the beginning stages of construction in close proximity to the apartment, lauding the benefits of having a wealth of shopping opportunities available so close by.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… My parents, who unlike us, had remained in their home in the Holy Land, were now our shlichim to visit the building site and furnish periodic updates.
Their reports took on a gradually more intense sense of urgency as time marched on. Although the building itself was progressing more or less on schedule and up-to-par, the make-up of the neighborhood they witnessed springing up around it was a far cry from what we had anticipated.
They sounded alarm bells after each visit, something along the lines of “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!” ominously warning us that we would not feel comfortable in our chosen community. In addition, the huge shopping mall a few blocks away had not progressed an iota in all the time since our purchase. Not only was it not the beautiful, modern structure we had hoped for, due to political infighting and conflicting interests, it had instead become a cavernous shell plastered with unsightly signs and graffiti.
Needless to say, we were beginning to hyperventilate, albeit long-distance, and wonder what to do next, and how we could possibly extricate ourselves from this unpleasant, not to mention extremely expensive, situation.
However, we need not have worried. True to form and to our previous experience, our yeshua arrived, unbidden and unexpected, k’heref ayin.
Our realtor contacted us, out of the blue, with a tantalizing proposal.
“I have a customer here who really wants to buy your property from you, or at the very least to rent it until you are ready to move here.”
On the one hand, we had searched so long and hard until we finally found that apartment. Yet, admittedly we were not quite ready to make aliyah again, and if my parents’ dire concerns were even remotely justified…
We weighed our options carefully and made our decision.
“We don’t want to sell that apartment until we find something else we like. But we will allow him to rent it in the meantime.”
We ultimately agreed to give our tenant first dibs if and when we would decide to sell, and to apply his monthly rental to the price of the sale.
The realtor suggested several other apartments to us, and we ultimately selected another one that was situated in an adjacent neighborhood more to our liking.
We subsequently arranged for our tenant to pay us in the identical installments that the new house required, thus eliminating any additional out-of-pocket expenses for us, and affording him an easy payment plan.
In the end, with a great deal of bitachon and concurrent siyata dishmaya, we achieved a reasonable win/win situation: Our tenant was thrilled with both the apartment and the community, while we were more than satisfied with both the house and location of our alternate choice.
When the time was right and we were eventually zoche to ascend to Eretz Yisrael once again, we had a lovely apartment available to us, and a front row seat to watch our own home coming up, stone by stone. Although it was an unforeseen hassle and expense to have to move an additional time (thus bringing our staggering total to fifteen!), it had the hidden benefit of allowing us a trial run of sorts in the loaner apartment, which paved the way for implementing a few invaluable upgrades and improvements in our own apartment before we actually moved in.
Ultimately our trial-and-error and false starts were a worthwhile learning experience that undoubtedly rewarded us with a near-perfect fit for our blessed return to our beloved homeland.
Postscript: My intercity bus rounded a familiar corner en route to a visit to my mother in a suburb of Yerushalayim. Lo and behold! As we passed what had been the eyesore/monstrosity of the vacant practically haunted mall, I had to rub my eyes in disbelief. After seven years the graffiti and unsightly notices had been eradicated, and the shopping center was finally beginning to take shape! And I breathed a protracted sigh of relief that we had, b”H, been comfortably and happily situated elsewhere during that time.
As I calculated the, ka’h, four additional weddings and eleven new grandchildren we had been zoche to during those seven years, I thought back to all that had transpired both before and after our return to the Holy Land. And I realized the tremendous debt of gratitude I owed Avinu Shebashamayim for orchestrating events as He had, in addition to the unparalleled joy and zechus of our long awaited homecoming.