We were at it again. My husband and I, the wandering Jews, had to move once again. We had a week to pack up our home, and somehow we did it. It was hard to find movers on such short notice, and all of our previous movers were booked. A friend recommended us some movers whom she had just used and had been happy with. They were free, and when Thursday—Moving Day—came, we were ready.

The movers arrived, and even from the beginning I could tell that this move was going to be different from than the ones before, and it was. What is usually a four-hour move (we know because we have done this six times in nine years) was going on and on. Nine hours had passed, and they weren’t finished. The movers were breaking things left and right. I anxiously looked at the clock. When would this move end?

When would this move end?It was already close to midnight, and they told us, “We’re not moving up your couches or your refrigerator. We can’t. There’s no way that they can come up. Think fast where you want us to leave them, because we are going.”

My stomach fell; my heart skipped beats. My throat had a lump in it, and tears were about to burst forth on my cheeks. I was exhausted, worn out and drained. We have no one to call, no one to turn to. I pleaded with them, and prayed. I told my children, who should have been in bed hours before, to pray. I think, after seeing the look on my face and hearing the despair in my voice (and of course, more importantly, the praying) they agreed to bring up one couch and the refrigerator, and then they left. The other couch, a couch that had taken me a year of hard work to pay off, was left on the street.

Our new apartment, half the size of the one that we had just moved from, was crowded and packed to the brim. There was no space to move. We managed to get the kids to sleep, and then, just when I thought that our situation could not get any worse, it did . . . cockroaches!

I spotted one, and then another one. All of a sudden there were hundreds of them, little ones, big ones. This was not just one family; this was an entire nation of cockroaches crawling out of every nook and cranny, every corner and every wall.

It was now 3:30 in the morning, and for the first time in a long time, I broke. I felt destroyed, taken advantage of, and I felt so low. The famous question, “Why?” arose from my throat. Why? I, who am always so strong and focused, who wakes up the in the morning every day with a mission and a purpose, who has faith and clarity—I, Elana, broke. “I don’t understand. What does G‑d want from me? Why does everything have to be such a struggle? What are we doing here, and why?” And do you know what my husband answered me? “Elana, I don’t know why, but I am very calm (someone has to be!). If this situation is such a test for us, it must mean that there is a treasure here.”

What does G‑d want from me? Why does everything have to be such a struggle?Before I go on and tell you the end to this story, and what happened to our couch, let me tell you that the words my husband said to me that Thursday night resonated and penetrated my heart. While the dawn was breaking, I kept telling myself, “There must be a treasure here.”

When you arrive in the land of Canaan (Israel) that I give you as a possession, and I will place a tzara’at affliction upon a house in the land of your possession . . . He (the owner of the house) shall demolish the house—its stones, its timber, and all the mortar of the house . . . (Leviticus 14:34–45)

Why was it that when the nation of Israel entered Israel, an affliction (tzara’at) appeared on their houses?

The sages teach that from the moment that the Canaanites heard that the nation of Israel was coming, they hid their money and valuables in their houses and their fields. G‑d promised Abraham that He would bring his descendants into a land full of all good things, so what did He do? He brought an affliction to a man’s house, and when he destroyed it (as the Torah ordained) and knocked down the walls, he found a treasure buried inside of it.

The next day, as we waited for the exterminator to come, my children and I played “chase and hide ’n’ seek” with the cockroaches. He came, and we had to leave for an entire week as the apartment aired out. Friends opened their doors to us, and for the first time in I don’t know how many years, I had a true vacation! We arrived back home, and within a day we had everything unpacked. The movers came back and brought our couch up. (It was a miracle that nobody stole it!) Things started to look up.

That was a month ago. Since then, we have had two different exterminators come five times. A plumber has had to come twice, a handyman numerous times, and two electricians. Our oven broke. Oh, let me think if I am missing something . . . I thank G‑d that was it, and this whole time I kept reminding myself about the treasure. And you know what—I found it!

All these externalities—they get fixed and taken care ofI started to see the light and charm of our new little home. All these externalities—they get fixed and taken care of. (Yes, even the cockroaches are starting to go away at last!) It’s a hassle and annoying, but you can’t let them deter you from the treasure within. I have a beautiful family, thank G‑d, with laughter and domestic harmony, and that is what makes a beautiful home.

We have special people who live on our street, a wonderful mixture of all kinds of Jews, and I must say that in the five countries that I have lived in, and the numerous homes and streets, I have never felt so comfortable and or happy. Our location is magnificent. I am a five minutes’ walk from my children’s schools, a three minutes’ walk from a fun and lively food market, and a thirty minutes’ walk from the Western Wall—the holiest place in the world. Our apartment, which houses five people in a space that is smaller than my parents’ bedroom, is spacious enough for us and to host my children’s friends all the time; more kids come to us in a day than I ever had over as a child in a year.

This entire experience has taught me a valuable lesson: it’s not the walls that make a home, it’s the people. It’s not the size that determines wealth or happiness, but the light of holiness and the contentment to be happy with what you have. You can have two people living in a mansion and it’s crowded, or eight people living in a two-bedroom apartment and there’s always enough space.

Sometimes, what appears as an affliction is really just a message for us to appreciate what we have, and to dig deeper within to find the treasure. You might need to break down some walls first, but the treasure and goodness of every situation is there, just waiting to be discovered.