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In Merit of a Mitzvah
by Chana Malka

In the early seventies, when Rabbi Yitzchak Grossman arrived in Migdal HaEmek and founded the “Migdal Ohr” Institutions, he called on me to serve as a full-time housemother. The children who came to learn there were from homes throughout northern Israel - many of whom were new immigrants, and some from families enduring serious socioeconomic difficulties. Rabbi Grossman accepted the task of providing them with a home and a Torah education. My job was to tend to their material needs, e.g., providing them with clean clothes, making certain that their living quarters were tidy and hygienic, and putting them to bed and waking them up on time.

As part of my responsibilities, I would go around the dormitory rooms together with the rabbi’s wife, Rebbetzin Ester Grossman, checking that everyone was in bed and saying “Good night” to each of them. One night, we noticed signs of vomit on the floor at the entrance to the building. We asked the students we saw if they knew who had thrown up. They said that it was Ami, a student whose parents lived in Migdal HaEmek, not far from the dormitory. They added that the boy had gone home and was no longer in the dormitory. Naturally, we cleaned up the mess and continued our routine inspection.

After a few minutes, we came to the floor where Ami’s room was located. As we entered the room, we noticed Ami lying on the floor unconscious. We tried to communicate with him but he didn’t respond. We went into a panic and quickly called the paramedics to come immediately to the dormitory. The boy was transported by ambulance to Afula’s Emek Medical Center, as we escorted him, deeply concerned for his welfare. After a series of comprehensive tests, the doctors determined that he had suffered a blow to the head, and the fact that we had found him and called the paramedics saved his life.

We informed his parents and they came straight to the hospital. It was already five o’clock in the morning, and on my way back to Migdal HaEmek, I asked Rebbetzin Grossman if she could find someone else to wake up the students. I was absolutely exhausted and I would have a difficult time functioning normally after only two hours of sleep. She agreed, and the cab driver dropped me off at my house and then took her home. As I was about to walk through the door, I was surprised to see all the lights on! This was not a good sign, and my heart began to beat wildly - everyone in the house should have been asleep at this hour.

I ran into the house and I immediately noticed my eldest daughter lying on her bed. My husband stood nearby alongside another man wearing a doctor’s gown. He examined my daughter and determined that she was suffering from meningitis. My husband told me that her body temperature had risen sharply, and when she started speaking in delirium, he called for the doctor. Instead of going to bed, I called an ambulance for a second time that night and headed back to the hospital with my daughter, whose condition had been declared very serious by the attending physician.

At the emergency room, the initial diagnosis was confirmed - meningitis. She was immediately hospitalized as the doctors saw that her life was in serious danger. I quickly ran to the telephone and called the Grossmans to tell the Rebbetzin that I was again at the hospital - this time with my daughter in a literal life and death struggle. I was beside myself with fright as I sobbed uncontrollably. The Rebbetzin tried to calm me down, instilling me with hope and faith that everything would turn out all right. I still felt like a boat adrift at sea.

The Rebbetzin eventually told me that her husband, Rabbi Grossman, was presently in New York and he was about to go in for a private meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. She promised that as soon as she got off the phone with me, she would call her husband and ask him to make this the first issue raised when he went before the Rebbe. This calmed me down a bit. However, the tremendous fear over my daughter’s condition and the long hours without sleep were simply too much for me.

The following day, at three o’clock in the afternoon, my daughter’s condition remained unchanged and the Rebbetzin still hadn’t called me back.

During those hours, I was sitting outside her room, murmuring words of T’hillim. Suddenly, Rebbetzin Grossman appeared with a huge smile on her lips.

“Why are you smiling?” I asked with great exhaustion. “My daughter is about to die and you’re smiling?” I sobbed. Unruffled, she told me that she was smiling because of the clear answer I had been privileged to receive through her husband, Rabbi Grossman. When the rav went in and asked the Rebbe for a blessing for my daughter, the Rebbe stopped him and said, “Her mother saved a Jewish life. She has nothing to worry about.”

The Rebbe suggested that we should do another series of blood tests and blessed my daughter with a complete recovery. “If the Rebbe gave such a clear blessing and he knew that you had saved a Jewish life a few hours earlier even though my husband hadn’t said a word, you can remove all worry from your heart - your daughter will be completely healthy.”

I didn’t waste any time. As soon as I left her, I immediately went to the doctors’ room and asked them to conduct another series of blood tests. At first, they didn’t understand what I wanted. Yet, I was determined and they agreed to my request. The doctor escorted me to the examining room.

When I went into my daughter’s room, I was positively stunned. The girl was awake, sitting up in bed and looking at me. She appeared totally different than the way I saw her just an hour earlier. She smiled at me and spoke a few words. In the meantime, the doctor took the blood tests. My daughter’s condition soon began to improve. She started coming back to herself, and that very same day, she was already standing on her feet. The doctors, shocked by the sudden and extreme change for the better, asked me what I had done. Naturally, I told them I hadn’t done anything; the one who had done something was the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

I vowed that day that my daughter and I would both travel to the Rebbe to thank him for this great wonder.

When my daughter reached school age, I registered her in the Chabad educational institutions. When she grew older, she even learned at the ‘Beit Rivka’ high school in Kfar Chabad with Rabbi Grossman’s daughters. Eventually, my daughter and I were privileged to travel to 770 and pass by the Rebbe for dollars, to thank him personally for the great miracle he had done for us and to receive his blessing.


 

 


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