Bet Shemesh is not called House of the Sun for nothing. That was why when we moved to Ramat Bet Shemesh twenty years ago central air conditioning was one of the few fixes we made to the apartment even though our budget was tight. We didn’t have the air conditioning installed right away so I remember the hot summer days after we moved in sitting and dripping in tears and sweat while watching my eldest who was only one along with his newborn brother.
Once we finally had air conditioning installed it stood us in good stead through 20 solid years of giving birth to four more children, watching their antics, potty training them and more recently preparing our eldest for marriage. Recently when I noticed our A/C unit was dying at the end of last summer I told my husband it was time to get a new one. He’s more of the old school type to keep fixing things until they can no longer be fixed and I am usually okay to go along with it, but the unit had already been fixed several times before and I did not believe there was too much life left in it. But dutiful wife that I am I called a technician and he came to “fix” it.
“Don’t put it lower than 75 or the motor will have to work too hard.” And with that he left. I think it was cooler when it was off but my husband was not budging in terms of buying a new one. Luckily the winter was soon upon us and the heating mechanism on the A/C unit seemed to be working well plus we barely needed it as with hot summers come mild winters. Then the heating unit also broke. I thought at this stage my husband would be open to replacing it. I thought wrong as we had other big expenses coming our way.
Our eldest son was due to get married soon after the heating broke. Several elderly relatives were due to visit from abroad. My husband was concerned that the elderly guests would be too cold in our house and we didn’t have time to properly research buying a new unit a few days before the wedding, so we got it fixed again, against my better judgment. That fix lasted for about 2 weeks. That was when I told my husband that rather than wasting money fixing ancient air-conditioning units we need a new unit.
The day after a wedding is not the best day to get a new air conditioning unit as we were still recovering from all of the wedding expenses, predictable and otherwise. We managed to get through the rest of the winter just using a little radiator for the living room and small blow heaters for the bedrooms. Then the coronavirus hit and the whole world was on lockdown. The weather was still quite pleasant outside and there was the occasional heat wave, but we were overall managing. But once Pesach was over and the temperatures were rising I knew we would need air conditioning.
I called a technician the day after Pesach to get a quote. Since nobody was really allowed to leave their house past 100 meters I was very pleased when the technician I called agreed to come, mask and all. He had just installed air conditioning in an apartment near us with the same layout so he said it’s no problem to do ours. He gave me a quote and he left. I asked my husband how we would pay for it as our second son had gotten engaged on the heels of the wedding of our first son and we still have many expenses related to his wedding planning. My husband said, “I don’t know, let me sleep on it.” Luckily, I was too tired with having had our younger kids home for a full month to even worry about it. Also, my husband has an emunah pshutah in which things always work out. I tried to ride on that wave but wasn’t so successful in my efforts as I don’t function so well when I’m hot and sweaty.
That night I heard a shiur from Rav Moshe Weinberger in which he said that the coronavirus was like all of the makkos rolled up into one. He also explained how with every plague there was a bracha for the Jews. He assured his listeners that no matter how difficult the coronavirus was for the yidden there was also tremendous bracha hidden within the difficulty. I went to bed with a prayer on my lips that we would find our bracha within the difficulty.
The next morning my husband got an email from his father (who manages our U.S. finances) informing us that we had just received $4000 in our bank account, a coronavirus stimulus check. That was the exact amount we needed to pay for our air conditioning! That was our blessing wrapped up in the makkah.