In the many years that my wife and I have been involved in teaching the laws
of Family Purity, we have observed many instances of Hashgacha Pratit ,
Divine Providence. One story in particular stands out and we feel that it should
One couple that ended up in our classes was not typical of the Sephardic
Community. On a shopping expedition in Manhattan, my wife was introduced by her
friend Renee Hanon to Aaron Abadi, a suit manufacturer. He happened to be a
Syrian Jew born in Curacao, earning his living and residing in Manhattan.
Curacao is a small island under Dutch control, which is just north of Venezuela.
While talking with Aaron, it was brought up that my wife Carol and I were
teachers of Family Purity in our community and since Aaron was recently engaged,
perhaps he would like to attend our classes.
Aaron politely, but emphatically, declined the offer; however, he did say he
would mention it to his fiancee, who was more observant than him, for in fact
she had recently returned from two years in a seminary in Israel where she
became a Baalat Teshuva. Laurie, a lovely Ashkenazic girl, immediately accepted
the opportunity for classes. Aaron got hooked because his good friends who were
from Switzerland and living in Manhatten were also getting married at the same
time, and they had readily agreed to attend the classes with their future
brides. They were also Syrian Jews.
Aaron reluctantly attended the classes with Laurie. Although he had a limited
religious background, he was a very honest and truthful individual and by the
end of the classes, he was very much convinced that this was the only formula
for himself and Laurie to follow in their married life. Aaron and Laurie became
our friends and would ask us many of their questions relating to Family Purity
and other aspects of religion.
Within their first year of marriage they decided to close Aaron's business in
New York and move to Curacao. Aaron's father had a large retail business on the
Islands and needed someone to take over the operation.
The first question that came up was what to do about mikvah on
Curacao. Although the first Synagogue in the western world was built in Curacao
in 1664, the mikvah on its premises had not been used in many years. In
fact, the Synagogue was now a museum which was being run by Reconstructionist
Jews. We got Laurie a heter, rabbinical permission, to use the ocean as
a mikvah. As Aaron and Laurie were very enthusiastic supporters of
Family Purity, we blessed them that they should eventually build a kosher
mikvah on the island. Soon after their arrival on the island, Aaron and
Laurie took a very active role in the religious activities on Curacao.
Shortly thereafter, Aaron began making plans to build his own home on the
island. After much discussion with Laurie he approached me to inquire about the
feasibility of building a kosher mikvah in his new home. We totally
encouraged him by stressing the importance of such a project and I put him in
touch with Rabbi Isaac Trieger who is one of the foremost experts on
halachot (Jewish law) and construction of mikvaot in America.
Plans were meticulously drawn up to include a mikvah and dressing room
wing to their new home. Construction of the mikvah was to be supervised
by Aaron who would maintain constant contact with Rabbi Treiger along every step
of the way.
The Abadis were very excited to have such a worthwhile addition to their home
and in fact the first part of the foundation to be poured was specifically for
the mikvah wing. However, construction on the island was a long drawn
out affair, the mentality on the island being "manyana" (tomorrow) is just as
good as today.
Approximately two and a half years later the home was ready to be moved into
although the mikvah was not yet ready. There were some technical
problems which needed to be solved. By this time the Satan started to
get involved in this holy project. People were already talking to Aaron; "Why do
we need a mikvah on the island? How many people are going to use it a
month - three? Are you so religious that you should have a mikvah in
your home?" The project seemed to be floundering but with a little encouragement
it got back on track.
In the summer Rabbi Maleh was dispatched from Mexico City to examine the
mikvah and give it a certificate of Kashruth so water could
begin gathering in the wells. Unfortunately, although the construction was fine,
the Rabbi found that there was a leak in the mikvah (not uncommon) and
until that problem was solved, the mikvah was not kosher. Aaron was
looking for the right material to seal the pool to negate the leak.
At this point in the story it is important to know a little bit about the
climate of the island. Curacao is very close to the equator and although there
are breezes on the island, it would be described as a desert climate. This is
apparent when flying over the island where everything looks brown instead of
green as one might expect. In fact, over the past 10 years the average rainfall
during the rainy season (November - March) was less than an inch a year. All
drinking water on the island comes from a desalinization plant.
When Aaron and Laurie moved into their lovely home there was an idiosyncrasy
to the home that all their friends would ask them about. "Why are there gutters
and downspouts on your roof? It barely rains here!" The answer was: "We have a
mikvah wing and the gutters are to collect the rainwater in order to
fill the wells according to Jewish law."
This response always drew a chuckle. "It will take 20 years before you will
be able to collect enough water to fill a mikvah! Maybe you should
consider using ice instead!" (technically snow is permitted to fill the wells).
In the meantime Aaron was working closely with Rabbi Treiger to find a material
to seal the leak. He had the natural doubts, "Will this project ever end?" and
of course "What about the water?"
To add insult to injury in November there was a brief spell of rain on the
island with two days of showers. Everyone called Aaron to ask "Are you getting
rain in the mikvah?" When he explained to them that the spout was
stopped up and he could not accumulate the water until after the Rabbi gave him
permission, it was too much for anyone to understand! "That's ridiculous!" he
would hear "If you lose this opportunity you won't get more rain until next year
and even so it is going to take you many years to fill the pool."
Finally Aaron found a building material that worked perfectly to seal the
mikvah. He contacted me to connect him to Rabbi Treiger in order to
perform the necessary test to insure there were no leaks. In December while
Aaron was away on a business trip, Rabbi Treiger gave the okay to unplug the
downspout and wait for the rains to fill the wells. Aaron called Laurie and gave
her instructions on how to do this.
That very night a storm developed and it started to rain. After two days of
constant rain, Laurie went to see what was going on with the mikvah. To
her surprose, both wells were overflowing. In fact, the water had actually
overflowed into the main mikvah, which at this time was already half
full. Miraculously it took just two days for the wells to be filled. However, as
if to send a sign to everyone on the island, it continued to rain until the
entire color of the island turned green. It continued to rain so much that there
were many places on the island where there was not adequate drainage and ponds
of water accumulated. The local government decided to put guppies in all these
ponds to control the mosquitos which began to amass around the stagnant water.
There was nothing in the island records to match such an occurance.
In January, we received a call from Aaron and Laurie. "Our wells are full.
Please come down to Curacao to verify that the mikvah is kosher and
give classes for our friends on Family Purity." We were overjoyed to make the
trip. When we flew over the island we noticed that it was really very green. I
commented to my wife; "It's amazing! Here is a couple who put their faith and
money to do Hashem's mitzvah. It is very clear that Hashem
changed the nature of the island so that Aaron and Laurie could fulfill
their great undertaking."
The mikvah was beautiful, situated in a special wing of the house.
It has a separate main entrance to provide privacy and a lovely dressing room
decorated in a Moroccan motif. Aaron and Laurie were excited to show us their
beautiful home, but their real pride was having a kosher mikvah on the
island. I couldn't help but think, we can learn a great lesson from our friends
here, if we do our part, Hashem will make sure we will be able to