Avrohom Rainitz, Beis Moshiach
Twenty-eight days passed after R’ Eliezer Gold was brought to the hospital. His condition deteriorated until he had to be sedated and attached to a ventilator. Then came the long-awaited moment when he exited the minivan in good health and walked toward his family. On the grass stood his grandchildren with a big sign that said, “Hodu L’Hashem ki tov, ki l’olam chasdo.” Less than five minutes later, videos documenting his return home flew around whatsapp groups and the joy was shared by the public.
After weeks of painful updates, the turnabout occurred. Everyone took note of the time period in which the change happened: 2 Iyar, a yom segula, l’chatchila ariber, and also the day when the achdus farbrengens began in Chabad communities around the world. This was all in addition to the fact that it was the first week of the month of Iyar which is an acronym of “Ani Hashem Rofecha” (I am Hashem your Healer).
In accordance with the Rebbe’s instruction on Shabbos, parshas Vayeishev 5752, that we need to publicize the miracles Hashem does in order to hasten the Geula, I spoke with some of those walking miracles and asked to hear about the miracles they experienced until they recovered, thank G-d.
THE MOMENT THE SOFER PUT UP THE KOSHER MEZUZA, R’ ELIEZER BEGAN TO BREATHE!
A few days after R’ Gold of Crown Heights was hospitalized in the ICU of NYU in Manhattan, the phone rang in the Gold household. It was Rebbetzin Sima Ashkenazi of Kfar Chabad who is a friend of the Gold family for many years. After Mrs. Basya Gold reported that her husband was unconscious and on a ventilator, Rebbetzin Ashkenazi asked the Rebbe for a bracha through the Igros Kodesh. The Rebbe’s answer was that there would be good news and that when he would go to the tziyun of the Rebbe Rayatz, he would mention him for a bracha.
A few days passed and Rebbetzin Ashkenazi called back. When she heard that the situation had gotten worse and R’ Gold’s life was in danger, she asked the Rebbe for a bracha once again. This time, the Rebbe’s bracha included the instruction to check tefillin and mezuzos and if he put on Rabeinu Tam tefillin, to check those too. The Rebbe asked to be informed as soon as the situation improved.
That was on erev Pesach. All the ST’aM places were closed. When Mrs. Gold spoke to the sofer who checks their mezuzos throughout the year, he was in quarantine and could not go to his office to check the mezuzos. With all the pressure to get ready for Yom Tov and checking in with the doctors, Mrs.Gold managed to get a sofer to check the tefillin. They were fine, but she was unable to have the mezuzos checked at that point.
On the first day of Chol Ha’Moed, she asked the sofer to come and check the mezuzos. He explained that halachically, he couldn’t check mezuzos on Chol Ha’Moed, Considering the pressing circumstances, a rav allowed two mezuzos to be checked, the mezuza at the front door and one other mezuza.
The mezuza on the front door was large and nice with beautiful writing but a problem was discovered. In the pasuk, “so that your days will increase and the days of your children on the land that G-d promised your fathers” the letter ayin of the word “nishba” had a crack in it which completely invalidated the mezuza, nor was it able to be fixed!
“Throughout that time,” says Mrs. Gold, “I was in touch by phone with the doctors several times a day. They tried repeatedly to get my husband off the ventilator but his body was not ready for that and they had to sedate him again and reattach him to the ventilator.
“On motzoei Shabbos they called and said the following day they would be starting a special procedure that might finally free his lungs from being dependent on the ventilator. On Sunday, at 10:05, the sofer called to say he would be coming in ten minutes to put a new mezuza up on the front door. Just as the sofer knocked at the door, the phone rang and it was the doctors. I asked my son-in-law to be with the sofer while I spoke to the doctors.
“What happened at that moment was astonishing. The moment I heard the sofer screwing the mezuza into the door, I heard the doctors reporting that for the first time they were able to take my husband off the ventilator and he began to breathe on his own!
“The connection between the mezuza and his breathing was so clear. Whoever was present saw it. Of course, we immediately called Rebbetzin Ashkenazi to write to the Rebbe with the good news.”
This improvement was the first breakthrough, and R’ Gold continued to improve until he returned home on his own two feet.
A SERIES OF HASHGACHA PRATIS THAT SAVED HIS LIFE AT THE LAST MOMENT
I know R’ Shmuel Kravitsky, manager of the Sky 2000 travel agency, for many years now. In fact, just about all the long-term residents of Crown Heights know him, which is why whoever saw the whatsapp message that he posted from his hospital bed was shaken, and immediately ran to say Tehillim. The wording was decidedly unequivocal: “Shmuel ben Rivka is fighting for his life from his hospital sickbed.”
Unlike others who have recently left the hospital after weeks of being sedated and on a ventilator, R’ Shmuel escaped by a miracle hours before they were going to sedate him and put him on a ventilator. In New York, only 12% of people put on ventilators survived.
When I spoke with R’ Shmuel, two weeks after he left the hospital and at a time when others, who had been on ventilators, were starting to leave the hospital, he said there was no comparison between his small miracle and their big miracle. But on second thought, he agreed to tell me his story as it was full of amazing instances of divine providence that together, saved his life.
“With my story, you can see how Hashem directs the course of a person’s life years in advance, in order to save that person when the time would come. It began four years ago, when I visited my daughter and son-in-law, who are shluchim in Arizona. While I was there, I was asked to take one of the family to a traditional Jew for acupuncture. When he finished the treatment, he asked whether I also wanted treatment. I hadn’t thought about it; I blurted out that if he would be able to get me to stop smoking, it was a good idea.
“This was after thirty-eight years of chain-smoking and after his treatment, I suddenly stopped smoking. Four years later, when I left the hospital, the doctor said: Your miracle is that you stopped smoking a few years ago. If you would still be smoking, your lungs would not have been strong enough to deal with the tremendous battle for your life.
“I saw how Hashem prepared the means for saving me four years earlier. At around the same time, Hashem arranged another means for my salvation. My wife saw an ad for a device that measures oxygen levels for only $29.95 and decided to buy it. Until today, she has no idea why she bought it and for five years we didn’t use it a single time.
“Then, on that fateful night, when a friend who heard that I wasn’t feeling well said it was very important to measure the oxygen level in my blood, we remembered the gadget. It didn’t even have a battery but after we put a battery in and I checked myself, I immediately called Hatzala. That was another important step in saving my life which would not have been done if my wife hadn’t bought the machine four or five years ago.
“The most important factor and the strangest, which in retrospect helped save my life was my inexplicable stubborn refusal to be hospitalized anywhere but at NYU. At that time, Hatzalah was taking corona patients to other hospitals but I, who had never been hospitalized before, and had no familiarity with hospitals in New York and the differences between them, suddenly insisted on being taken to NYU. I’ll tell you why this decision saved my life.
“Being in the corona ward, even if you are in the best hospital, is like being in a gilded prison. I got one of the nicest rooms in the hospital, a suite, but aside from the high-end trappings staying in isolation was a nightmare. Even when I called for the doctors and nurses, they didn’t come. Aside from the tremendous workload they had, every time they had to enter a quarantine room, they had to put on a protective suit and mask and then take it all off. It took time and in the beginning they did not have enough equipment, so they tried to avoid entering my room.
“Two days passed since I was put in the ICU, two days in which I kept asking to meet with a doctor to understand what my situation was. It was only after two days that a doctor finally came and if before his visit I was merely confused, after his visit I was terrified. After he explained to me that I was sick with corona and that my lungs were struggling to function, I asked him how many days it would take before I could leave the hospital. He looked pityingly at me and said that it looked as though they would have to sedate me soon and put me on a ventilator and when that happened, he could not guarantee the outcome. In other words, he could not guarantee I would wake up again.
“At that time, thousands had already died of corona. Numerous people had died in Crown Heights and I heard about people going from the hospital to the cemetery. I did not yet know that 88% of those on ventilators in New York were dying but even without that horrifying statistic, I knew that this was a real battle for my life.
“The moment I realized my life was in danger, I called a graphic artist who usually does ads for my travel agency. I told her that this time I needed something entirely different. I asked her to write that I am fighting for my life from my sickbed and requested that mitzvos be done in my merit. The ad, which was spread via whatsapp, along with my picture, shook up my friends and they began to storm the gates of heaven by saying Tehillim and doing additional good deeds which surely led to the next stage in the series of miracles.
“A few hours after the tremendous shock that I experienced as a result of the doctor’s visit, at two in the morning, some nurses came into my room and said they had gotten a trial medication and they wanted to try it on me. I had to sign my consent. At that hour of the night, I was unable to consult with anyone but after hearing earlier from the doctor that within a few hours I would be sedated and put on a ventilator, I decided I had nothing to lose and I agreed to try the new medication.
“Later on, I found out how big a miracle this was. It is a very expensive medicine that costs thousands of dollars per dose, which cannot be purchased in a pharmacy. It is a medication still under development, very complex, whose developers claimed could cure corona but they were only willing to try it on patients with a specific medical profile and only in one hospital in New York. You guessed correctly – NYU!
“If I would have been in any other hospital, I would not have gotten this medication. It was only because I unreasonably insisted on going to NYU and because my profile was precisely what the drug company was looking for, that I was one of the few who was given this medication.
“The nurses took blood tests and a few hours later they came back with the news that I was an exact match for what they were looking for. They started an infusion of the drug into my body, which turned out (at least for me) to be life-saving. From that point on, my condition continuously improved and the terror of sedation and mechanical respiration receded.
“Along with my gratitude to Hashem who gave me my life as a gift, I also owe thanks to some human angels. The first angel is/are the extraordinary Hatzala members, especially my friend R’ Moshe Klein who, when I first refused to go to the hospital, since I heard that the hospitals had become way-stations to the cemetery, convinced me that in my condition I had no choice but to go to the hospital.
“The second angel is/are the volunteers at Ahavas Chesed headed by my friend R’ Avraham Lider, who despite the lockdown on corona wards in hospitals managed, time after time, to break through the siege and get food etc. to me. Since this is a hospital without a kosher kitchen, Jewish patients get their meals from catering companies. The meals are very limited and they arrive cold. If not for the packages from Ahavas Chesed, I could have starved. Even after I left the hospital, Ahavas Chesed continued to look after me and take care of everything.
“The third angel is a frum doctor named Dr. Lax of New Jersey who works in a different department in the hospital. Although it wasn’t part of his job, he came to me like an angel and encouraged me. During the rough times, when I heard about Chassidim I knew who passed away of corona, I had to unburden the feelings of distress in my heart and there was nobody to talk to. The doctors and nurses who came in were fitted out in protective suits and masks and looked like robots, not humans. He came to me twice to listen and encourage me. I simply cried on his shoulder. He did not leave his information with me and so I couldn’t call him afterward to thank him but his visits saved me.
“When I look at the series of miracles that I had, I am sure that even an atheist would do teshuva, all the more so someone who is a Chassid of the Rebbe and who heard so many times how Hashem runs the world. From my hospital bed I saw it all openly!”
ANGEL IN THE HOSPITAL
Rabbi Zalman Liberow of Crown Heights, the one who organizes the big Lag B’Omer bonfire in Crown Heights every year, tells of an angel-doctor who saved him:
“As you probably heard from others, the situation in New York hospitals was catastrophic. Without enough equipment and without properly trained manpower, the patients were simply neglected. It took days from the time I was hospitalized until a doctor examined me! Nurses barely came into the room. Even when I was extremely thirsty and I pressed the call button again and again, the nurses came four hours later!
“In the midst of this chaos Hashem helped and one of my relatives knew a doctor who, because he has patients in the hospital, was allowed to enter all the departments, even the isolated corona department. I met him on my first day in the hospital and after that he came nearly every day and that was very reassuring.
“Shabbos afternoon, after being in the hospital for a few days, my roommate’s condition suddenly deteriorated and the doctors spent a long trying to revive him. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful and he was declared dead. It’s hard to describe the distress that I felt. On motzoei Shabbos, when that doctor came to visit me, he was astonished to discover that my oxygen mask wasn’t working at all. It seems that in the chaos in the room during the resuscitation attempt, the doctors needed another outlet and they inadvertently disconnected me from the oxygen!
“After the initial shock, the doctor encouraged me by saying that if I managed to survive all that time without oxygen, that showed that I was starting to get better. So actually as a result of this occurrence, which could have been life-threatening, the path to healing began.
“It was a path to healing but definitely not an easy path. I was so weak that I could not daven. I put tefillin on with difficulty. Then I opened a siddur, looked at the words, but could not move my lips and utter the words. This weakness persisted even after I was released and although I left the hospital on 11 Nissan, the first bracha I was able to say out loud was the bracha on biur chometz on 14 Nissan.
“Being released from the hospital represented a reprieve from danger to life, but definitely did not comprise a full recovery. After I received my release papers, I could not walk. They gave my wife permission to come in so she could take me out of there.
“During those difficult times, my family asked the Rebbe for a bracha and they received a bracha through the Igros Kodesh. The bracha raised my morale. They also bought a letter in a Sefer Torah for me. I am sure that thanks to these spiritual activities I was able to leave the hospital alive.”
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