A Lesson For the Children – A large crowd filled the small “Har Tzvi” Synagogue in the Geula section of Jerusalem. The neighborhood and the population grew steadily, and many of the people came to the warm community of Har Tzvi. Day by day the place became more and more crowded, and it was necessary to find a solution to the problem of a lack of space. The gaba’im in charge of the prayers in the synagogue, led by Yaakov Blau, went to Rabbi Shlomo Zevin to ask for his advice. The rabbi answered, “It is written, ‘in order to lift up the house of our G-d’ [Ezra 9:9]. You must build another floor on the synagogue.” And the gaba’im replied, “But where will we find the money? Our congregation is very poor!” The rabbi answered, “I trust you to find a way to collect the necessary funds.” And the gaba’im left the rabbi’s house in confusion.
The gaba’im immediately began an appeal to raise the required money. They turned to the Jerusalem municipality and to the religious council, to the members of the congregation and to wealthy benefactors. Every name they could think of and every charity fund received a formal request to help expand the synagogue.
And slowly, bit by bit, the building fund began to fill up. The necessary building permits were obtained, Mr. Spiegel, a well known contractor, was hired to build the new floor, and everything was almost ready to start. But it was still not possible to begin. About one-third of the necessary sum of money was still missing, and this was a very large sum indeed.
So the chief gabai, Yaakov Blau, went again to various rabbis, including the very righteous Yosef Cohen, the grandson of Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank, after whom the synagogue was named. And the two of them decided to make one more unusual appeal.
This time they decided to turn to the contractor, Mr. Spiegel. He was known as a generous man, with great wealth and much property. He enjoyed all the material comforts one could imagine, but his beautiful house was very quiet, without the cry of any babies. Everything was lying in its proper place, and no children made a mess in the house. In other words, he and his wife had waited many years to have children. They had turned to doctors, they had visited many different rabbis, they had tried everything they could think of – but they still did not have any children.
So Yaakov said the following to Mr. Spiegel: “This time we have come with a slightly unusual proposal. We want you to participate in the burden of expanding the synagogue.” They explained their financial problems. They told him about the great effort that they had made, about the many requests they had made from all the possible institutions, and about the fact that so far they had only been able to collect two-thirds of the required money. “Come and join us in this effort, Mr. Spiegel. We know how high the prices are, and that you hope to make a profit on this work. But we want to suggest that you might want to contribute the missing amount. If you do this, you have the promise of the rabbi that with G-d’s help you will have a child.”
Mr. Spiegel hesitated, and he consulted with his wife. In the end, he gave them a positive answer. He was willing to donate the entire missing sum of money! The joy of the gaba’im knew no bounds. They prayed together with all the other congregants that the blessing of the rabbi would be fulfilled.
As the frame of the building went up and the concrete beams were poured, the gaba’im were given the surprising news (perhaps not so surprising after all) that Mrs. Spiegel was pregnant. As the construction progressed, so did her pregnancy. And at the same time as the completion of the new second floor was celebrated, the entire congregation celebrated the birth of a daughter in the Spiegel house…
Source: The sons of the Gabai, Moshe and Menachem Blau – as related by Rabbi Yehuda Barhav in memory of Moshe Blau, who passed away on the eve of Shavuot 5767. Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute (www.zomet.org.il).
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.