Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am sitting here in a state of shock, I can’t believe what I just heard and this is why I am compelled to get this letter written and sent because I never believed that one human being would do this to another. I am a widow, over seventy-five, I am physically unable to work, especially now with this pandemic, and rely on the kindness and charity of others for food and medicine. My life is not easy under normal circumstances, but I never complained then and I don’t want to complain now, however, the hurt and the shame I was made to go through from my landlord was beyond cruelty.
I have always been a moral, honest person. If I borrowed money from someone, it was always paid back in a timely manner. I have always considered others over my own comforts and tried to be of help wherever and whenever I could and I have always, for the most part received the same considerations in return. Until today.
I was speaking to a good friend and bemoaning the fact that I didn’t think I would be able to make my rent payment this month and didn’t know how to approach my landlord. She was surprised that I hadn’t heard about the three-month moratorium on mortgage and rent payments, because so many people were unemployed with no means of income. I was so happy to hear about this and called my landlord to say how sorry I was but could he give me some more time before I resumed paying the rent.
I truly was unprepared to hear his response. Although my landlord is a yeshivishe young man and well aware of my circumstances and never had any issues with me in the past, his behavior and demeanor was not to be understood and almost brought me to tears. After hearing my pleas for a few weeks grace, he said that that was not a consideration and not only this, but on top of this, he was raising my rent to over $1,000.00 more per month than I was already paying. I was absolutely dumbstruck and on the verge of tears. How can one Jew do this to an elderly, debilitated woman? It’s not like he and his family are hungry and depend on my rent to put food on their table or pay their bills, he owns his own company and other real estate.
What am I to do? Where is his “v’ahavta le rayacha kamocha“? We are standing before Shavuos, how can he forget what it means to be a Jew and observe the Torah that teaches us to be charitable and to show loving kindness? I am not asking for charity from him, I will eventually pay the rent up to date, even if it means selling a kidney or piece of my liver, so please print my letter in the hopes that he can see himself and what he’s doing!
My heart goes out to you and, hopefully, he will see this column and have a change of heart. We are truly standing at the bottom of Mount Sinai, ready to receive the most precious and beautiful gift Hashem could bestow upon His beloved children. I can only hope that when your landlord opens his mouth to voice his prayers, he will recognized his commitment to Hashem, His Torah and His mitzvos.
But it is also incumbent upon us to give him the benefit of the doubt as to why he was so unfeeling, to the point of being cruel, when you asked him for a short reprieve. Could he, perhaps, have had a momentary lapse in kind judgment due to having received or experienced some sort of setback financially? Might there be an illness in the family, or worse, that may have shut his eyes to the pain of others? Did his ears shut out your plea for benevolence and understanding because he himself was in a bad place? Even on the assumption that he was short with you for selfish reasons, it is healthier for you to extend to him the kindness that he couldn’t and wouldn’t extend to you. Let us hope that during the course of this Yom Tov that is built around love of Hashem, and love for our fellow Jewish people, he will have an epiphany and softening of his heart, and if he does indeed read this column, an awakening of the spirit of what it means to be a Jew and what this very Yom Tov comes to remind us we should aspire to be, he will do the right thing.
I have faith that in his heart of hearts, your landlord regrets what he put you through and after thought, he will be gracious and understanding in your behalf. In the interim, I want to wish you, your landlord and Klal Yisroel a beautiful and enlightening Yom Tov, wherein we right our wrongs, become more caring and sharing of our good will and be a true inspiration to those around us that they too may learn and follow. In that blessing, may we be zoche to hear the shofar blown in the hills of Yerushalayim heralding the coming of Moshiach and the arrival of the Geula Ha’amiti!