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Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 12 Adar I 5784
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To Save a Life

“Binyamin, you must try to make it to the wedding. We will buy tickets for your whole family.”

“I am very sorry, father, but I must refuse. You know the standard that we set for ourselves when we moved to Japan, and I’m not about to break it now.”

For the past 11 years, Rabbi Binyamin and Mrs. Efrat Edery have been emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Tokyo, Japan. There is no Jewish tourist or businessman who has passed through Tokyo and not made a connection with the Ederys, in one way or another. They are exemplars of dedication to their mission; for one thing, they are known for the iron rule they set for themselves when they first moved to Japan: they would not leave Tokyo under any circumstances unless they have arranged for a substitute rabbi in their absence.

Now Rabbi Binyamin’s brother was about to be married in France, and his parents very strongly wanted him and his family to attend. But Rabbi Edery had not managed to find someone to replace him during the trip. As strong as his desire was to participate in his brother’s wedding, he knew he would have to refuse, and send his congratulations from afar.

On the night of the wedding, the Ederys in Tokyo hosted a guest in their home, a young man by the name of Daniel Moskowitz. He spent the evening with them and in the morning, he set out to climb one of the mountains surrounding Tokyo.

Rabbi Binyamin was well aware of the dangers of the trek, and told Daniel to be in contact with him during his hike. They agreed that if Daniel did not call Rabbi Edery by three in the afternoon, Rabbi Edery would call him.

The designated hour passed and Daniel did not call. Rabbi Edery felt uneasy. He tried to call Daniel’s cell phone, but there was no answer. His wife, Efrat, urged him not to give up. “Keep trying, until he answers you. I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

After a half hour of trying, Daniel finally picked up the phone. His voice sounded very faint. “Rabbi Edery, these are my last hours,” he said weakly. “I can’t survive this… I fell down from a height of 150 meters and I’m injured… right now I’m stuck in a snow drift, frozen to my bones, and I can’t move my limbs.”

 “Please, describe to me exactly where you fell,” said Rabbi Binyamin urgently. “We will send help immediately.”

 “I am between the seventh and eighth section of Mount Fuji, as hikers call it,” answered Daniel with his last strength. “I have equipment with me to use in this situation, but in my condition I am not able to use it…”

The call was disconnected, and Rabbi Edery tried to call back Daniel. This time he did not answer. Rabbi Binyamin’s heart skipped a beat. “We must hurry,” Efrat urged him.

Daniel was an English citizen, and Rabbi Edery hurried to contact the British consulate. The diplomat did not seem to grasp that the matter was one of life or death. “Tomorrow morning we will send a rescue mission,” he said laconically.

Rabbi Binyamin knew that by the next morning there might not be anyone to rescue. He would have to organize the rescue party himself. Through a friend of the Chabad House, he contacted a private rescue group and urged them to go quickly to the place that Daniel had described.”

 “You’re in luck, sir, that you just called now,” one member of the rescue party told him. “In a half hour the sun will set, and after that we would not be able to help much. We will send the rescue party out right away.”

With the help of a rescue helicopter, Daniel was quickly located. The medics loaded him into the helicopter and brought him to the closest hospital to treat his injuries. When Rabbi Edery found out where he had been taken – a distance of about 200 kilometers from Tokyo – he drove out there to see him.

In the hospital, Rabbi Edery identified himself as Daniel’s family member, so that he could give authorization for all necessary treatment. The doctors said that Daniel’s injuries were severe and he would need a lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. In the meantime, Rabbi Edery called Daniel’s parents, and his mother immediately flew out to be with her son.

It took two months for Daniel to recuperate fully from his injuries, but finally he was able to leave the hospital. The doctors called his recovery a miracle. Shortly thereafter, Daniel made a complete return to an observant Jewish lifestyle. He married a Jewish girl, and Rabbi Edery officiated at their wedding.

Rabbi Edery concludes emotionally: “I missed attending my brother’s wedding. But in that merit -- in the merit of our loyalty to the Rebbe’s mission – I merited to save a life, and even to officiate at his wedding.”


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