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Shlach: Spies of Teaneck

Bamidbar 13:1-33

And Michael of the tribe of Finkelstein spoke to his wife, Ariella, and he said:

“Go send forth friends to reconnoiter the house we are thinking of purchasing. For our apartment in Westgate is so small, and we have been fruitful and multiplied.”

And so Ariella sent forth friends to check out the house on Winthrop Road. Each of the friends was a leader, respected among his or her tribe. Either that, or they agreed to go out on a Sunday and use their precious free time to appease their friends Michael and Ariella; for the tribe of Finkelstein was mighty in Teaneck.

And Michael instructed his friends in the following manner: “Ascend the front steps of the house and find out the following: Investigate the hardwood floors; are they strong or weak? And how is the land on which the foundation rests; is it good or bad? And how are the neighbors dwelling thereabouts; are their yards fortified with fences? Are there trees or not; and if so, do they overhang our roof?

Yoni and Leora of the tribe of Schwartzman were the first sent to sojourn in the house on Winthrop Road. They went south and climbed the staircase to the bedrooms above. They went north and viewed the two-car garage. They even descended to the basement, where the water damage was rumored to dwell.

And Yoni and Leora returned from their sojourn at the end of 10 minutes. They returned to Michael and Ariella and the entire tribe of Finkelstein, and they said: “We arrived at the house to which you sent us, and indeed it flows with central air conditioning and baseboard heat. But the kitchen is from the dark ages, and the dining room is too small for Sabbath habitation. The roof is old, and the carpeting is orange shag. And the bathrooms, don’t get us started…”

And Michael and Ariella thanked the Schwartzmans for their assistance, and they called next upon Rachel and Philip from the tribe of Baumgarten. The Finkelsteins sent them with dispatch, for the open house was only until 5 p.m.

And Rachel and Philip went to the house on Winthrop Road. It was there that they saw the representatives of Vera and Nechama, ReMax, and Russo Realty, who were mighty in Bergen County.

The Baumgartens wandered the house from bay window to chimney for 15 minutes. Then they returned to Michael and Ariella and gave their report.

“We have been to Winthrop Road, and we are glad to have escaped alive. For the real estate agents were big talkers and wouldn’t leave us alone. Chirp, chirp, chirp, they were like grasshoppers in our ears. And as for the house, you cannot purchase it. For the taxes are too high, and the asking price is too steep. It is a house that will devour your savings. You would be better off if you had not left Queens those many years ago. Buy that house you shouldn’t.”

And the Finkelsteins sent one last couple to reconnoiter the house. From the tribe of Jacobowitz they chose Josh and Callie for one last look at the Winthrop property.

Josh and Callie Jacobowitz passed through the house, and they spied the kitchen and the dining room. They viewed the roof and the carpeting. They met with the agents and saw the neighbors, who appeared to the Jacobowitzes as giants (for Josh and Callie were on the shorter side, if truth be told).

And before returning to the Finkelsteins, Josh and Callie stopped at Julio’s Fruit Boutique on Queen Anne Road for some grapes. This has no bearing on the house whatsoever, nor does it improve this story for that matter, but I just thought you might want to know.

The Jacobowitzes came before the Finkelsteins and they said: “Yes, we have seen the house on Winthrop Road, and we have taken note of all its issues, but if you wish to buy it, you surely can. For the kitchen can be renovated, and there’s room to expand the dining room. The carpeting can be torn out, and the floors refinished. Even the bedrooms can be expanded, and I can see a nice den where the Florida room is at present.”

Yonie and Leora Schwartzman and Rachel and Philip Baumgarten repeated their objections, but Joshua and Callie silenced the naysayers.

“You can surely do this if you have faith in your father,” Callie said to Michael.

“Do you mean my Father who is in heaven?” Michael asked.

“No, Michael, I mean your father who is in Great Neck,” Callie replied. “For you will need a mighty bank roll to pull this off.”

This article is reprinted from June 12, 2014.

By Larry Stiefel

Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics.

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