Hashem Does His Part

Hashem Does His Part

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 be shared.

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 finish.

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