A Brick Wall, 8 Stories High

A Brick Wall, 8 Stories High

Hagit bat Leah z”l’s 5 young orphans and their abba are getting kicked out of their apartment this month. So this morning I went over to have a discussion with their landlady, in order to convince her to let this struggling family remain in their home.

I told the landlady, who is an extremely lovely and good-hearted human being, that it will be extremely difficult for these orphans to have to leave their home less than 4 months after their mother’s death. I told her that it’s almost impossible to find affordable apartments in the neighborhood, and the kids would so miss all their friends if they have to leave. I told her that we could help to renovate the place where she is living now in order to make it more suitable for her.

But nothing I said worked. The landlady explained that she is getting older and walks with difficulty, so she needs a home that is wheelchair accessible. She wished she could help. She wished Hagit’s family could stay. But there’s no way around it. The orphans and their abba must leave. And the sooner the better.

And I felt like I have many times while trying to help Hagit’s family since her passing– that I am banging my head against a brick wall. 8 stories high.

But as I left the good-hearted landlady, my head spinning from all my recent brick-wall-banging, I remembered a story my teacher Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi told us last week. And it comforted me.

Rabbanit Yemima told us the story of a woman who had decided to have an abortion. So Rabbanit Yemima called the woman and told her that you never regret children you have; you only regret the children you don’t have. Rabbanit Yemima pulled out all her big guns, and tried everything she could think of to prevent this woman from aborting her baby. But nothing worked. The brick wall stood 8 stories high. And nothing was moving it.

And the woman aborted her baby.

Rabbanit Yemima felt terrible. Maybe she could have done more? And if she had done more, maybe that woman’s baby would still be alive?

And then last week Rabbanit Yemima heard a story about Rabbanit Batsheva Kanyevsky.

Once Rabbanit Kanyevksy was visited by a young woman who wanted to receive a blessing for her upcoming marriage to an Arab man. Rabbanit Kanyevsky did everything she could to convince the woman that this was a bad idea, but Rabbanit Kanyevsky saw that she was jousting with a brick wall 8 stories high, just like Rabbanit Yemima had, and just like I had.

So Rabbanit Kanyevsky told the woman, “OK, but you must promise me that every day you are with this man you will read a chapter of Psalms.”

That week, Rabbanit Kanyevsky received a call from the young woman.

“We broke up.” she told the Rabbanit.

“What happened?” asked the stunned Rabbanit.

“I opened the book of Psalms , and the first verse I read was “Riva Hashem Rivi migoy lo chasid.” (May Hashem fight my battle with the unholy non-Jew) and my name, HaRabbanit, is Riva.”

And Rabbanit Yemima found great comfort in this story. And I did too.

Because it shows that we must always try. Even when we have no chance of succeeding. Even when we are faced with a brick wall. 8 stories high.

And Rabbanit Yemima concluded, “I know that on my tombstone, may I live until 140, will be written the words ‘Yemima Mizrachi tried.”

And that, I decided, may I live until 150, is what I want written on my tombstone as well.

Chana Jenny Weisberg didn’t always succeed.

In fact, most of the time, Chana Jenny Weisberg failed quite miserably.

But Chana Jenny Weisberg always, always tried.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Alpha


  1. We must also remember that we are not in charge. We can fight as hard as we can, but in the end, Someone is running the show, and He has His reasons and his plans for everything. You never know what may come of something that seems so negative now.

    If there is a brick wall 8 stories high, we have to remember Who put it there.

  2. I feel so broken hearted after reading this (though the stories you shared are somewhat comforting). But still, this poor family. I can’t imagine how hard this is going to be for those poor little children and their father. Is there anything that we readers can do? Are you still collecting funds or clothing etc. for this family? Please let me (and all the readers of your most wonderful blog) know what we can do to help. I still wish there was a way for them to stay in their apartment. Thank you for trying, Chana Jenny, you are an inspiration.

  3. in the book, “all for the Boss”, ruchama shain tells the story of the time she visited her father and they encountered some improperly dressed women in the street. ruchama was embarrassed when her father told the ladies that they were not properly dressed. in response to ruchama’s dismay, her father said that he did it for the sake of Heaven, so that when he faced the “beis din shel ma’ala”, he could honestly answer that he did protest pritzus (immodesty) in the streets of yerushalayim…

    you are in good company

  4. Hadassah Aber

    Moving may be hard, and finding a new place may be hard, but for the family there may be benefits, since everything they look at will not remind them of their mom. They can forge a new life together, and if Hashem wills it there will be a “space” available for a new person to take, that would have been much more difficult had they stayed in their old place.

    • JewishMom

      thank you, hadassah. your comment made me sigh deeply. You enabled me to see something that I hadn’t understood. When I spoke with the landlady and came up against that brick wall, I thought to myself “Let go, Hashem is taking care of these orphans. He must have other plans!” And you enabled me to, maybe, get a peek at what those plans might be, IY”H. Thank you.

  5. I am commenting you a great big HUG!

  6. Chana Jenny, your stories of TRYING against all odds remind me of Reb Leibel Mochkin z”l who went to Gush Katif at the age of 80 to try to save the land for the Jewish residents. At 80. I emailed it to you now in case you want to share it here.

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