A couple of weeks’ ago, I had a big test.

Long story short, I’ve been helping out a relative who bought a new-build flat in Israel just before Covid 19 really took off, and he hasn’t been able to set foot in the country since, so I’ve been dealing with it for him.

New build flats in Israel are not simple things.

Dealing with the cablans, the workers (all called Ahmed, Mehmet and Mohammed) and all the bureaucracy with the electricity companies, and the bath people and city hall is really difficult at the best of times.

And with Covid going on for a year and a half, these have not been the best of times.


So it was, that the day before the new tenants were meant to take possession of the apartment, I found myself having to move literally half a ton of leftover tiles out of the property.

Up on the fifth floor.

Yes, Ahmed and Mohammed really should have done that themselves (six months ago…) but they hadn’t.

And they weren’t around to do it that day, either.

And the tiles had to be moved, and the apartment cleaned, before the new tenants moved in.


I wasn’t totally retarded.

I had brought my metal shopping trolley thing with me, and my plan was to load a packet of tiles in to it, wheel it over to the lift, then go down to the ground floor and wheel it over to the communal bin and dump it.

Very quickly, I realised my plan wasn’t going to plan.

I couldn’t even lift a packet of tiles into the trolley, because each pack literally weighed 30 kilos.

And even just trying to move them was beyond me, as I realised when I half dropped one on my foot and narrowly escaped totally crushing my toes.


You know when you just feel so overwhelmed and despairing?

When you just feel totally lost in the problem, and can’t see a way out?

That’s how I felt for a good 10 minutes, as I stared at all these packets of tiles piled up on the floor that were way too heavy for me to even lift for the 10 seconds it would take to get them into my shopping trolley thingy.

Then God gave me an idea that changed the whole picture:

Just deal with one tile at a time.


But God, if I do it that way it’s going to take me hours and hours!

And if you don’t do it that way, Rivka, then you just can’t do it.

Never argue with God. He’s always right.


So, I girded my loins, and by the end I’d worked out a system where I could get 3-4 tiles carefully balanced in my shopping trolley things, so I only had to make about 30 trips up and down in the elevator.

On a scorchingly hot August day.

Where the nearest skip was a good 100 metres up the road, so I ended up having to load my car up about 10 different times, and drive up there at 2 miles an hour so all the tiles wouldn’t crush together in my boot and make a difficult job even harder.

And there were other obstacles, too.


At the end of all that, one of the neighbors in the building actually called the police on me, because I parked in *their* space for all of 10 minutes.

Someone else had parked in the space that belonged to my relative’s apartment, and I couldn’t park further away as I was already shlepping half a ton of tiles down – by hand – and I had just two more loads to go.

So, I parked my car in the adjacent space – and the cow that owned it called the police on me.


Now, it’s funny.

But two weeks ago, I didn’t find it so amusing.

Why am I telling you all this?


I’m having a few conversations with a few different ‘overwhelmed’ people who are telling me Rivka, I can’t do this for much longer… I can’t do this for another six months, or another year…. However long it’s going to take before this breaks and we get the geula….

This is akin to looking at that big, half-ton pile of tiles and saying I can’t lift it.

Of course, that’s 100% right.

Nobody can lift that.

Nobody can ‘do this’ for another year.


But you know what? We don’t have to.

All we have to do is break it up into manageable chunks, and to lift one tile at a time.

One day at a time.

You can definitely do one day at a time, however tedious, or stressful, or overwhelming that day might be.

It’s still doable!


One more thing.

In the middle of shlepping all those tiles down to the car and then over the skip, there was a point where I felt like my back was going to go out.

I mean, I’m in my late forties, and shlepping half a ton of tiles is not something I’ve really been training for, honestly.

And when my back started to feel a little weak, I started to panic again that even if it holds out long enough for me to get this job done, I could be stuck in bed with a bad back for a week afterwards…

With Rosh Hashana right around the corner.


So I stopped shlepping for a few minutes, and I started praying.

God, if you want me to do this, then please give me the strength to continue!

Please protect my back, and give me the energy to get this done for my relative!

Almost instantly, all the twinging and ‘weak feeling’ disappeared, and my back felt fine.

And I had no backache afterwards, either, even though I was shlepping those tiles for four hours solid.


We haven’t got the strength to carry on, if God doesn’t help us, if God doesn’t give it to us.

But if you’re feeling like you can’t do it any more – like you’re about to crack under the strain – ask God for the koach you need to continue.


If we approach life one tile at a time, one day at a time, all of us will cross the finishing line.

Even if it’s still a year away, or 10 years away.


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3 replies
  1. Nechama
    Nechama says:

    Boker TOV Rivky!
    Let me ask a question. Since these are leftover tiles that the owner paid for, assuming that is correct, why throw them? Why not keep them for future use? Or to retile a bathroom? Or a kitchen? One always needs xtra tiles?
    Where does it say they do not belong to the owner of a new-build flat? If the workers left them, isn’t ‘squatters rights’ applicable here? Maybe a Beis Din could decide? Otherwise, your point is well taken.

    BTW, I think we’ve found the viper instigating and ruling over the H.M. To the detriment of all Klal Yisrael.

    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      I put two packets of tiles into the machsan for future use.

      Honestly, it was a massive waste of good tiles, and I was thinking that someone (not me, however….) should look into setting up some sort of ’tile recycling’ project with all these extra tiles from new build apartments. The owners don’t need to keep half a ton of spare tiles (!) sitting around in storage, but because they are so heavy – and also so fragile once they are out of their packets – it’s very difficult for individuals to deal with them, or transport them.

      My relative was ok with me throwing them out. At that point, there was nothing else I could do with them.

  2. Daisy Stern
    Daisy Stern says:

    Good advice, Rivka. It’s always good to break down a difficult project in small parts, starting with the easiest, I would say. You gave me a boost. BTW I also injured my back last week, thank
    G-d it is healing as of today. Funny, I wonder what it means: why the back?

    Take it easy as much as you can without disrupting your Mitzvot and Avodat Hashem!


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