Probably like everyone else out there, I’ve been having a heck of a rough ride this Sefirat HaOmer.
In a nutshell, the apartment we tried to buy in Jerusalem – and that we paid a huge deposit on, and that we got an ‘ok’ from the bank on for a huge mortgage – has turned into a complete nightmare.
It’s a very complicated property, and basically nearly all the lawyers, mortgage people, bank reps and estate agents that ‘sold’ it to us had no idea what was really going on with it. So the bank told us we had the mortgage – and we signed a binding contract on that basis – only to be told the day after Pesach that the bank’s biggest lawyer had now rescinded our mortgage offer, due to the ‘complications’ with the apartment that no-one else had picked up.
The news hit me like a thunderclap, and I was literally ill in bed for a week afterwards. (I happened to also twist my ankle very badly 10 minutes before we got that phone call, so body, mind and soul got taken out at exactly the same time.)
We are now liable for 10% of the full purchase price for breaking the contract (through no fault of our own) and everyone from the bank reps to the lawyers are all busy pointing their fingers at everyone else.
Everyone is to blame – in some small way – for what’s happened, and yet no one is to blame enough that there is a clear cut way for us to recover the money.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know how much heartache I’ve had over house related stuff the last few years. You’ll know that we only got this deposit in the first place because my mother-in-law passed away the day after Rosh Hashana. And you’ll know how much effort I put into fixing things up with her before she so unexpectedly died.
Peace, peace you shall pursue.
HOW MANY LAWYERS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A BAD CONTRACT?
So, the last few weeks we’ve been trying to figure out what on earth has gone on, and whether there is anything we can do try to rescue the situation. We’ve hired more lawyers, applied for loads more mortgages, visited every bank we can think of, spoken to mortgage brokers and anyone else who might be able to help, and even spent whole afternoons in Petach Tikva, at the head office of the Amidar organization that deals with ‘complicated’ properties in Israel.
Each time we thought we’d seen a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, it flickered out again. It’s been an enormous, massive test.
In the middle of this huge test of emuna, my dad and my friend decided to give me the exact same piece of advice, on exactly the same day, completely independently of each other (so I could be sure it was coming from God):
See the good.
Look at the situation, the people involved, positively, with a good eye.
It’s good advice, but it’s been so much work to actually implement that over the last few weeks.
I can’t tell you the number of times we discovered how someone’s small flaw, small mistake, small oversight, small negative tendency contributed to what has become a massive problem for us.
No-one did anything maliciously, or on purpose, but the tendency to say ‘yiyeh beseder’ (it will be OK) and to not actually knuckle down and to the work required has caused us a financial disaster.
And me and my husband also have a small share of the blame in this regard. We used the same lawyer we’ve used on all of our house purchases, and we trusted him to do the job without double-checking the contract properly. It was written in Hebrew, and hard to get our heads around, so we didn’t bother. And that small oversight, that minor tendency to not take enough responsibility for our own lives, is now costing us an absolute fortune.
And we have to make teshuva for that, and accept that pointing the finger at everyone else is not really going to get us anywhere useful. Sure, if it had been done maliciously, if we’d been deliberately de-frauded by our sellers (as I thought up until yesterday, when I got some more pieces of the puzzle), I’d be willing to fight it the whole way.
You can’t let ‘bad’ off the hook, you can’t run away from it, you can’t back down from taking it on.
But I now know we aren’t dealing with that. We’re just dealing with a bunch of people, who are actually quite nice and well-meaning, each of whom was a little bit lazy, a little bit laissez faire, a little bit over-reliant on God making sure everything would turn out OK, like He always does – but now the rules have changed.
And there is no-one to blame, and no-one to sue, and nothing to do, it seems, except to swallow the enormous amount of money we are about to lose, and try to accept God’s judgment with love.
THE LAST BIT OF LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
God forbid, I should get bitter about this, or paranoid, or consumed with anger and hatred. I’ve seen that happen, where 50 years on people are still going on about the huge injustice that was done to them, and they live their whole lives miserable and hating as a result.
The last bit of light that we might be able to turn things around on the house got extinguished yesterday night.
This morning, I was feeling pretty down so I went to the Rav, to just sit quietly at the back and do some hitbodedut. It was pretty quiet there, compared to how it usually is, but someone had brought a guitar and the crowd was singing the davening, which was really nice.
I sat there kind of heartbroken and very sad, pondering what I do next and where I go next. Our lease is up in August, and I can’t stand the thought that I’m going to have to keep moving, and moving, and moving, every year to some new rented place. I’m so tired of packing. I’m so tired of moving. I so hoped that now, finally, I was at the end of the huge upheavals I’ve had to deal with for so many years, already.
So I sat there, feeling pretty sorry for myself, and I got the message in hitbodedut: pursue the path of peace, even if it’s going to cost you a lot. Don’t try to sue, don’t try to brazen things out, just pursue the path of peace. In the end, God can still send you all the money in the world, and pursuing peace now will open up so many good things for you.
So that’s what we’re going to try to do. The alternative is to try to get all legally aggressive and nasty, which sounds tempting when you feel aggrieved and hard done by. But God is behind this, only God, and going after people for their small, accidental mistakes and failings is probably not what God wants us to do.
We all mistakes some times. We all turn blind eyes to things that we shouldn’t, and rely on other people to fix the problem and do our work for us.
I can’t open the ledgers and accuse other people of those things when I know I’m doing it myself still.
So, that’s where we’ve got to. Resolution. Not the resolution I hoped for, or prayed for, or waited for, but resolution nonetheless, and even that is something. Because all the up and down and backwards and forwards that’s gone on since the day after Pesach has been beyond exhausting and debilitating.
Some days, I haven’t been able to do even basic things like wash up and make food. That has to stop! Even without my own home, even with a massive financial loss, life is still good. My family is still healthy, BH, we’re still together, we’re still in Jerusalem. There is so much to be grateful for.
So, I’m looking forward to the end of this Counting the Omer period. It’s always an interesting time, but this year’s event have truly taken the biscuit. What’s left of me is now ready to receive the Torah. And I know the path you have to pursue in order to really get it:
Peace. Only peace.
With ourselves, with our fellow Jews, and most importantly of all, with God, and His plan for our lives.