Story for Lag B’Omer: Rashbi Cured the Paralyzed Man




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    Story for Lag B’Omer: Rashbi Cured the Paralyzed Man

    After seeing so many horrible things, the Jews were a broken people, with torn clothing and dreams of a happy life – dreams that had been crushed by the Nazis. They left behind their families and friends who had been killed in the Holocaust, escaping to Eretz Yisrael with the hope of building something new. • Story for Kids presented for Lag B’Omer • Full Story

    By Baila Brikman – From The Collection

    After seeing so many horrible things, the Jews were a broken people, with torn clothing and dreams of a happy life – dreams that had been crushed by the Nazis. They left behind their families and friends who had been killed in the Holocaust, escaping to Eretz Yisrael with the hope of building something new.

    But instead of being welcomed home, they found a land that didn’t want them.

    You see, back then, the British were in charge of Eretz Yisrael. The Turkish government had controlled the area for a few hundred years, and British people had worked hard to take that control for themselves. Even though Eretz Yisrael should belong to the Jews, the British weren’t very excited to lose control of it all over again. They didn’t want to just give it up.

    They knew that terrible things were happening in Europe. They heard about all the Yidden who were killed and the cities that were destroyed. But when thousands of Yidden tried to escape that awful place, they only let a few of them come. They were worried that the Jews would come and take Israel back – so they only let some Jews in, and they didn’t care to save the rest of them.

    When Yidden tried to sneak in without permission, the British always caught them. They would be brought to camps and forced to live in terrible conditions, surrounded by barbed wire fences and watched carefully by guards. They lived in tiny tents and huts, which would get boiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.

    Isn’t that terrible? Instead of welcoming the brave Yidden who had survived and escaped the Holocaust, they put them in camps – just like the Nazis did, back in Europe!

    To make matters worse, in 1948, the British sent an entire boatload of 4,500 Yidden back to Europe! These Yidden had lost everything they had during the war, but the British wouldn’t just let them live in peace in Eretz Yisrael.

    You can imagine how upset the Yidden were.

    To add to the trouble, the Arabs living in Eretz Yisrael were very violent. They hated the Yidden with all their might, and they were always looking for ways to hurt them – or worse.

    The Yidden had had enough. “We have to fight the Arabs and get rid of the British!” they decided. “That way, all Yidden will be welcome in the land Hashem gave to us!”

    They made a few groups to fight the British and the Arabs. Many young men were asked to join. Some of them had only just escaped the Holocaust and wanted to live a quiet, peaceful life, but they needed to fight. Everyone had to do their part to protect the Yidden of Eretz Yisrael and give the Jews a safe place to live.


    One of these fighting groups was called the Lechi. They would go on many dangerous missions to scare the British and get rid of them.

    A couple of their members were a boy from Jerusalem named Tzvi Greenwald and a young man from Europe, Yaakov*.

    Yaakov had seen terrible things during the Holocaust. He was abused in the Nazi’s awful camps, and his entire family had been killed. After the war, he sailed to Eretz Yisrael, hoping to start a new life.

    But as soon as he got off the boat, a few strong-looking men approached him. “Eretz Yisrael is very dangerous right now,” they told him. “Come fight in the Lechi to protect yourself and all the Yidden!”

    Yaakov trained hard and joined Tzvi’s group, going on many secret missions to fight the British soldiers.

    These missions were going well for a time, but one day, something terrible happened: An Arab shot Yaakov in the back.

    Yaakov was in a lot of pain. He’d been hit right in the middle of his back, and the bullet had damaged his spine. He was rushed to the hospital, but the doctors couldn’t help him. He became completely paralyzed, unable to move his arms and legs.

    You see, the spine is in charge of sending messages from your brain to all your body parts. If the spine is damaged, the messages can’t go through. When Yaakov tried to walk or move his hands, the messages from his brain that said “walk” or “wave hello” couldn’t reach the correct body parts, so his hands and legs were frozen in place, as if they were stuck.

    Yaakov could still talk, see, and hear, but what good was that when he couldn’t move? He’d lay in bed from morning to night, feeling very sorry for himself.

    I’ve lost everything. My home, my family, and now, I’ve even lost myself. He thought, miserably. I can’t start a new life. I can’t even move. What am I still here for?

    Weeks passed, and he just kept feeling more and more sad and depressed. What was the point of living if all he could do was lay in bed and stare at the ceiling?

    Tzvi Greenwald and another man from their group felt very bad for him. They wished they could stay with him in the hospital, but they had to keep fighting. Instead, they made sure to visit every few days. They would talk to him and tell him stories, trying to distract him from his pain and cheer him up.


    Months passed. A few days before Lag B’Omer, Tzvi visited Yaakov in the hospital.

    He tried cheering Yaakov up, but in truth, he wasn’t feeling too cheery himself. The British had been attacking the Lechi, and every day was filled with danger and more people getting hurt or killed.

    As he tried to push away his anxious thoughts, Yaakov suddenly spoke. “You know, Tzvi, Lag B’Omer was always such a special day for my family. When I came to Eretz Yisrael, I dreamed of going to the kever of the heilige Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai.

    “But look at me now,” he whispered. “I’m stuck in bed, so I can’t get there on my own. Please, I’m begging you, take me to Meron for Lag B’Omer! I really need this.”

    Tzvi’s eyes filled with tears. How could he say no? “Don’t worry, Yaakov,” he promised his friend. “By hashgacha pratis, my group is going on a mission near Meron. I’ll make sure you can come along with us!”

    Yaakov’s face broke into the brightest smile. “You mean it!? Oh, thank you so much! This is going to be the most wonderful thing in the whole world!”


    Lag B’Omer came on a beautiful spring day. Tzvi prepared a few things and went to the hospital with two other members of the Lechi. “Hello,” he greeted the nurses, “We’re here to take our friend Yaakov on a walk outside. We think it’ll really lift his spirits.”

    “Oh, that’s a wonderful idea,” the nurses said happily. “He would really enjoy that. You’ll find him in his room.”

    They went to Yaakov’s room and carried him outside. But instead of just taking him around the block like they’d told the nurses, they put him on a mattress in the back of their truck. Tzvi slammed on the gas pedal, and they were off, speeding away in a cloud of dust.

    They zoomed down the sandy roads for many miles, the old truck moaning and groaning as they rode up the hills and around the bends. A few hours later, they arrived in Meron.

    They carried Yaakov’s mattress carefully out of the truck, bringing it inside the building of Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai’s kever. Gently, they laid Yaakov down in a corner, making sure he was comfortable.

    Tzvi leaned over to his friend. “Yaakov, we’re going on a mission a few miles away. You’ll stay here, near Rebbi Shimon’s kever. With Hashem’s help, we’ll be back tomorrow to take you back to the hospital.”

    He left a bag of food near Yaakov and turned to go. Before setting off on his mission, he whispered a tefilla to Hashem, davening that, in the zechus of Rebbi Shimon, they would return safely.

    Yaakov was left alone near the kever of Rebbi Shimon.

    These days, there’s a big band, with many instruments, and thousands of Yidden come to celebrate. But back then, the Lag B’Omer celebration was very small. Only a handful of people could show up at all. Someone lit a fire, and Yaakov watched the small group of men dance around it, singing songs in honor of the great tzaddik’s yahrtzeit. The night was dark and cold, and the men wrapped themselves in layers to protect themselves from the chilly wind. It was nothing like the thousands of people who come today.


    The next day, Tzvi’s group returned to Meron, zooming up the hills in their old trucks to get Yaakov. But when they came inside the building, they couldn’t believe their eyes.

    The mattress was empty.

    Yaakov was gone.

    Where was he?!?

    What had happened to their friend? Tzvi ran from room to room, not knowing what to think. “Yaakov? YAAKOV?”

    Suddenly, he stopped short. “Yaakov!” he cried, rushing over to his friend… who was walking around, just like everyone else.

    “Yaakov!” he exclaimed, “Am I dreaming?! You’re standing on your own two feet!”

    Yaakov turned to his friend and hugged him. Tzvi’s knees began to wobble, and he felt faint. “What happened?” He was so shocked, he could barely speak. “Just yesterday, we carried you in on a mattress. How are you moving around? They said you would never walk again!”

    Yaakov’s eyes shone bright with joy. “I’ll tell you. When you left me here last night, all I could do was lay on my mattress, watching the few people dancing around the fire. I tried to smile, tried to be happy – but I just couldn’t. I was so sad.

    “Rebbi Shimon! I cried out, You know how much I suffered during the Holocaust. The Nazis tortured me, and I only survived thanks to Hashem’s help. After the war, I looked for my family, but I found out that everyone had been killed. Out of my whole family, I was the only one who survived.

    “There was nothing left for me in Europe. I boarded a ship to Eretz Yisrael, hoping to find some peace. But the next thing I knew, I was being ordered to fight in the Lechi to help protect the Yidden of Eretz Yisrael. And things just kept getting worse! An Arab shot me in my spine, and now, I can’t move my hands or my feet. I lay alone on a mattress all day. I feel like there’s no point in living!

    “Heilige Rebbi Shimon, I cried, I’m begging you – please daven to Hashem to give me my life back!

    “After that, I had no more strength. I burst into tears, crying heavily for a long time. All the pain was just too much to bear.

    “Suddenly, I began to feel tingling in my fingers and toes. I thought I was imagining it, but as time passed, I was able to wiggle my fingers.

    “The tingling spread to the rest of my arms and legs. I felt a strange warmth passing through my bones. I tried to move my toes… and they moved. That was when I realized a miracle was happening.

    “As the hours passed, I moved my hand and then my foot. Toward the morning, I tried picking myself up – and it worked! My hands and legs listened to me! For the first time since the bullet hit my spine, I was able to sit up.

    “I was so happy. I slowly lifted my body up and took a few steps. Can you imagine? I asked for a bracha at the kever of Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai on Lag B’Omer, and he heard me! He performed a miracle to heal me!”

    Tears flowed from Tzvi’s eyes as he listened to Yaakov’s story. How wondrous are the ways of Hashem! he thought in awe. How great is the power of our holy tzaddikim!


    The next day, the military truck sped through the winding dirt highways back toward Yerushalayim. This time, Yaakov sat with the rest of the men. He felt like a new person, as if he’d been given a second chance at life.

    When they arrived at the hospital, Yaakov walked inside on his own two feet. The doctors and nurses almost fainted from fright!

    “It’s a ghost!” they shouted. “This can’t be Yaakov! His spine is damaged! He can’t move!”

    Yaakov smiled. “It’s really me, Yaakov. The great Tzaddik Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai made a miracle for me, and now I’m completely cured. I can’t believe it myself… Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me.”

    And with that, he turned around and left the hospital for good.

    Yaakov got married and had a beautiful family. He lived in Tochelet, a village next to Kfar Chabad. He stayed very close friends with Tzvi Greenwald, and today, his family is one of the Lubavitcher families in Eretz Yisrael.


    Could such an incredible, mind-blowing story be true? Did Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai really heal someone who’d been paralyzed when he asked for a blessing by his kever on Lag B’Omer?

    One Sunday morning in Crown Heights, at the bris of Rabbi Avrohom Rainitz’s son, this question was answered.

    Rabbi Rainitz told this story to the guests, saying, “I heard this story from my friend, Rabbi Nachman Twersky, who heard it from Rabbi Tzvi Greenwald himself!”

    When he finished the story, everyone was amazed. They sat there in silence, marveling at the greatness of our tzaddikim.

    Suddenly, the mohel, Rabbi Levi Heber, stood up and said, “By hashgacha pratis, I am the mohel at this bris. Rabbi Tzvi Greenwald was my grandfather. I heard the story from him myself, and I can confirm that all the details are absolutely true.”

    *name changed


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    1. Sholom

      In Shulchan Aruch it stipulates that one should lie on the side and not on the back!!!

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    Story for Lag B’Omer: Rashbi Cured the Paralyzed Man