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This is a true story.

We had been living peacefully in our apartment for several years until the Gruskin family above us decided to move out. They were a quiet family except for their eight-year-old daughter Aviva who had an annoying habit of screeching whenever she could not get her way. Our fifteen-year-old daughter Malkie, whose bedroom was just below Aviva’s, was only too happy to see them leave.


Little did we realize that our new neighbors, the Steinharts, would be infinitely more problematic. Things got off to a dampening start when our ceiling suddenly flooded. Apparently, Mrs. Steinhart’s method of cleaning her living room floor was to drench it with several inches of water which soon dripped down through our ceiling. When informed of this unfortunate occurrence, she offered only a mild apology. This was only the first of many problems we had to endure with them. With her penchant for watery ventures, Mrs. Steinhart put a little swimming pool for her kids on their porch. It didn’t take long for the pool to overflow and cascade down upon ours. On another occasion when my husband Yehuda was sitting on our porch a huge, heavy log of wood fell down barely missing his feet. Why they kept a tree-sized log on their porch was beyond our comprehension, but Mrs. Steinhart, claiming it was ‘just an accident,’ sent us a homemade cupcake with a note stating she wanted to be a good neighbor.

Shortly afterwards, they announced they were commencing renovations, and asked politely if they could measure our kitchen to obtain some ideas for their own. To reciprocate their neighborly gesture, we agreed to it.

Of course, at first we had no idea their renovations would include building a sukkah porch which would cover over half of ours and part of Malkie’s bedroom window.

“Oh, why did the Gruskins have to move out?” complained Malkie bitterly. “I’d rather listen to Aviva’s yelling all day than have these irritating people for neighbors!”

When our son Asher came home from yeshiva before Pesach, Malkie couldn’t wait to tell him about the many frustrations the Steinharts had caused us.

At first Asher felt equally incensed, but then his eyes lit up with an idea.

“My friend Yechiel told me his grandfather knows about segulos for all kinds of stuff. I’m gonna ask him to find out if there’s a segula to get rid of annoying neighbors!”

Yechiel was intrigued and consulted his grandfather about the matter.

His reply was quick in coming. “I’ve heard of a segula if the Pesach wine used for the makkos is poured on the doorstep of irritating neighbors they might move out,” he informed him.

Of course, Asher and Malkie were very excited to hear about this unusual segula and couldn’t wait for the seder to end so they could implement it.

Asher, carefully holding a cup of the fateful wine, disappeared up the stairs to the third floor of our building.

Upon his return Malkie eagerly asked him if his mission had been successful.

“I think so,” he explained. “I was nervous someone might see me so I just poured the wine on the doorstep and ran back down as quick as I could.”

“I can’t wait to find out if the segula worked,” she told him.

After Pesach when Asher had returned to his yeshiva, Malkie called to give him an update on the situation.

“This morning I was so happy to see a big moving van outside our building, but it turned out that nice Rothberg family moved out instead of the Steinharts!” she explained sadly.

“Oh no, I messed up,” admitted Asher. “I guess I poured the wine on the wrong doorstep!’

“But the segula did kind of work, just not the way we wanted,” Malkie pointed out.

Asher was so disappointed he called Yechiel’s grandfather to find out what might have gone wrong.

“This wine segula works best if the neighbors are already thinking of moving out,” the old man explained.

Since the Steinharts had just completed renovating their apartment, moving out was not in their plans. But the Rothbergs, looking for a larger apartment for their growing family, moved away as soon as they found one.

Gradually, as the months went by, we began to notice there were no more unfortunate incidents, watery or otherwise, originating from the Steinharts. Then Yehuda became better acquainted with Mr. Steinhart when he started davening at the same shul. When the Steinharts had a new baby boy, Yehuda was invited to the shalom zochor in their apartment. On the bookcase, he noticed several seforim by a learned rav he greatly admired, Rabbi Reuven Farber.

“His seforim are very hard to find,” Yehuda commented to his host. “They are so popular they sell out almost immediately.”

“I don’t have a problem with that,” explained Mr. Steinhart. “You see, Rabbi Farber happens to be my uncle. When his next sefer comes out, I’ll make sure to get a copy for you.”

“Thanks, I’d really appreciate that,” said Yehuda, impressed.

When he came home and informed me of this new development, I began to speculate. Although the Steinharts didn’t move away, they had become much better neighbors. Perhaps the wine segula did have a positive effect upon them after all.


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