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“What was that noise?” I asked, covering my ears.

Chaim slammed the porch door shut. Faigy held her hand to her chest.


“The tree… we were playing on the porch… heard a loud noise…” Chaim and Faigy ran to the dining room window. The rest of us followed them, leaving the Shabbos table to check out the scene.

“A tree fell down right in front of our house!” We gasped at the sight of the tree slanted …on my husband’s white car.

“It’s really time for a new car,” my husband declared as he snapped pictures of the damages on Sunday. “Even without the damages it would’ve been a matter of time that it would’ve needed replacing. I will file a claim against the city, who is responsible for this tree, for compensation. Hopefully the money will cover or at least supplement, the cost of a new car.”

“Will Tatty buy a car with a sunroof?” asked Chaim wide-eyed.

Faigy insisted that we buy a red car like the one we rented one summer for vacation. Shimon looked at his younger siblings and waved his hand with a smile.

“Nah, you know Tatty. He will buy a used car like the white one.” Mindy pleaded, “Mommy, please tell Tatty not to buy a red car? “

“Kinderlach,” I said, suppressing a smile, “If and when Tatty buys a car, everything will be up to him.”

The fallen tree damaged the car’s roof and broke a window. My husband covered the window with plastic in the meantime. Accompanied by a car-knowledgeable friend, Menachem went to file his claim against the city a short time later. A lawyer representing the city, offered to negotiate a settlement with my husband if he agreed not to bring the case to the judge. My husband discussed the offer with his friend who advised him that if the city was prepared to give him $4,000 if he did not present the case to the judge, he could presumably receive $5,000 if he did. Menachem declined the offer and asked to speak to the judge. Upon hearing that the case was one against the city, the judge recused himself stating partiality since he, too had a grievance against the city.

The claims court issued my husband a new appointment when a different judge would be on duty. When Menachem related how much restitution we could get from the city, I shared his relief that the purchase of a new car would be covered. Although it wasn’t a done deal yet, we were convinced that our case was clear-cut and it was only a matter of logistics.

At the appointment with the new judge, Menachem was rattled by his approach to the case. The judge questioned if the city knew about the tree and who says the damage was inflicted by it. After all, our car was an old one. My husband stood his ground and delivered the documents with the claim and the evidence.

We waited a few weeks for the court’s decision since it was sent by mail.

One evening, in the midst of the pre-bedtime action, Menachem called me over to a quiet corner. Holding a thin envelope in his hand, his expression inscrutable, he asked,” Do you want to know what the court’s decision was?”

He removed the sheet and placed it in front of me. Menachem did not say a word. He pointed to the line which stated: ‘Amount awarded:’ ‘0 dollars.’

“What! The nerve of them! I don’t understand. We have an open and shut case. The city is responsible for the tree, it damaged our car. Where is the justice?” I thought of Menachem’s relief of one less expense and now how that avenue was closed to him. I thought of the ‘ouch’ he must feel when thinking that he could’ve had $4,000 in his pocket now if he would only have agreed to the initial offer.

Menachem held up his hand and I sat down on the couch.

“I am also disappointed. However, I am not completely shocked since the judge who reviewed the case was a rather difficult and unpleasant personality. I thought the matter over.”

My husband, pointed upwards, “He is the true Judge. If the money was meant for us, we would’ve received it. “

Menachem took the car to the mechanic the next day and had basic repairs done at his expense.

For the next few years my husband drove our functional, albeit creaky car. All talk about replacing the car was suspended.

It was post-Covid when Menachem restarted his search for a new car. It was no longer safe for long-distance drives and he needed it daily for his commute to work.

Prices of cars skyrocketed at the time. He looked, he asked around and he didn’t buy. What was available was simply too expensive.

One day at work, Menachem overheard some talk that Jim, his co-worker, was looking to sell a car for next-to-nothing.

This man’s son died and he had a car sitting in his garage for a year. The car was old but usable. My husband approached Jim and asked if it was still available for purchase. Jim apologized and said that another colleague already committed to buy it.

Swallowing the disappointment of what would’ve been an amazing opportunity, my husband bolstered his conviction and belief that if the car was meant for him, he would’ve received it.

A week later, Menachem discovered that the original buyer backed out of the purchase. Once again, he approached Jim to inquire of the car’s availability.

“Yup! You want it?”

They shook hands.

Originally, the car had been parked some distance from my husband’s workplace in his son’s driveway. The first buyer had already picked it up and driven it to his home before he changed his mind. Jim now instructed him to bring it to their workplace.

For a fraction of the market price, we bought a car delivery included, by the best Dealer and Judge.


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