Thursday, October 06, 2011

From Rags to Riches - then, Much Higher!

Dror, an Israeli tourist, decided to put America's promise of potential riches to the test.

He rented out some cart space at a mall and began selling cheap merchandise around the New Year winter season, when Americans do much shopping. He earned quite well and decided the next year to "expand", renting vans, filling them up with merchandise, parking them at the malls, to alleviate the problem of storing and retrieving more merchandise when inventory levels needed refreshment. The next year he further expanded into many malls. Indeed he was earning much money.

One day he got a call from his sister in Israel who informed him she was soon getting married and could he please come to the ceremony.

Dror was in a quandary. He had now long overstayed his U.S. visa requirements. Were he now to leave the U.S., he'd never be allowed in again. So he decided on this plan: He will leave the U.S. and make his way back into the U.S. by way of Mexico, which he knew had porous borders.

After his sister's wedding he flew to Mexico, found the escort he sought near the Arizona border, and for $200 joined a group that was set to cross the border by walking through. Very soon another group crossed this group's path and Dror was persuaded to join this other group, which was going to walk across the border through the desert. Dror felt somewhat uneasier with this new group but didn't let that bother him.

On the second night he awoke and found himself alone in a desert. The group was gone, his large bag was gone too, and only the small bag he used as a pillow remained his only possession. He opened this bag and found a bottle half-filled with water. Not sure of what to do, he decided to continue walking in the same direction he earlier embarked on. He had finished his water long ago and now felt tired and needed rest. He spotted a tree and next to it laid down, again putting his "pillow" under his head. But now he felt a hardness and opened the bag to find it contained a book. The book, written by Chaim Sasson, one that explains the Rebbe's claim to fame, entitled "Now I Have Come to Know" (עתה ידעתי), made him think. He turned to God and said, "God, if You get me out of this situation, I promise to become religious." He laid down again.

Not 5 minutes passed and he hears ringing. He realizes his cellular phone, which he now found in one of his jacket pockets, was ringing. A friend was calling him. Dror told the friend of his predicament. The friend then made a few calls.

It turns out Dror had already entered U.S. territory. The Arizona police found him and took him to jail. A few days later he appeared before a judge. The judge asked him, "Where are you from?" Dror answered. "What city". He told the judge. "What street?" Now Dror felt uneasy about this scrutiny; He told the judge. "What address"? Dror felt the judge was crazy.

It turns out this judge had lived in Israel as a child, right next door to where Dror lived! The judge maneuvered and helped Dror "fix" his paperwork in such a way that he would not have a problem returning to the U.S. after his deportation. And so it happened that Dror was deported, but could come back to the U.S., where he had more than a million dollars in his bank account.

Dror kept his word and became religious. He also returned to his previous enterprise, and in the process lost all his money. So he packed his bags and went to learn in the Chabad yeshiva in Ramat-Aviv. A chavrusa of his at the yeshiva, who dined at my Friday night Shabbat table, told us this story.


  1. I once met some women from Israel who were selling beauty products at a mall. They were very pretty and when I left I was a lot lighter in the wallet.

  2. Why did he overstay his visa in the first place? It is sad that he was given the right to return, he should have been force to pull his money out, be IRS checked and then bye bye. Personally I have low tollerance to illegal aliens that abuse the system. Sure it is partly the governments' fault for not being tough and simply chosing who should and who should not but in this case he not only was abusing the system before hand by overstaying (and thus not paying taxes correctly as a green card holder or a citizen), then leaving the country and "sneaking" back in. Shame.