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Ears to Hear

Rabbi Hillel Rinus and his wife proudly count themselves among the founding members of the idealistic "Yitzhar" settlement in the Judean hills. They moved to Yitzhar shortly after their marriage, nearly a quarter century ago. The blend of ahavat yisroel and love of Torah that they found in the Yitzhar community helped them to overcome the challenges of settling the barren hills of Judea, the heart of the land promised by G-d to Abraham.

Nineteen years ago, the Rinus family celebrated the birth of a son. The child was born healthy, and his bris (circumcision) was celebrated joyously together with all the families of the Yitzhar settlement.

One afternoon, when the child was a few months old, a Phantom helicopter of the Israeli Air Force flew at close range over the settlement. The settlers were used to the sight of air force pilots carrying out various exercises in the region, but never had they seen a helicopter flying so low over the houses. The noise set off vibrations that shook every house in the settlement.

That was when Mrs. Rinus noticed that something was amiss. Everyone was shaken up, except for the baby, who lay quietly in his cradle, undisturbed. This caused his parents great concern; not the helicopter, but the baby's reaction, or rather, lack of reaction. At first they tried to dismiss the matter. After all, the baby was so young; perhaps his sensory systems were not fully developed. Yet, over time, they realized that the baby did not respond to sound of any sort. Time and again, they tried to elicit some reaction to their voices, to banging, to rattles, but to no avail.

Finally they realized they could not ignore the situation any longer, and boarded a bus to Tel Aviv for a complete medical exam. The Rinuses arrived at Machon Micah, a clinic that dealt primarily with hearing and speech problems.

 After a series of examinations, the doctors reported the news that the parents had been dreading. Their son was profoundly deaf. There was a slight chance that with powerful hearing aids, he may develop slight sensitivity to sound. The doctors set an appointment to begin treatment, and to introduce the Rinus family to the world of the treatment and rehabilitation of the profoundly deaf.

 It took a while for the Rinuses to accustom themselves to the new reality. Along with their regular visits to the Machon Michah clinic for treatment and to learn sign language, they also sought out spiritual help. They had heard about the greatness of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the miracles that he had been reported to perform. They composed a letter to the Rebbe and faxed it to his office in Brooklyn. They accepted upon themselves good resolutions in the area of Torah and mitzvot, for the sake of a complete recovery for their child.

 Only a few days after sending their letter to the Rebbe, the Rinuses had an inkling of the greatness of the Rebbe. It was around the same time of day and the same situation they had encountered previously: The baby was resting in his cradle when the house was shaken by a low-flying helicopter overhead. However, this time his reaction was completely different. Rather than lying there passively, apathetically, this time the baby burst into inconsolable tears. Never had parents been so overjoyed to hear the cries of their baby. Here was this baby that had been declared profoundly deaf after extensive examinations; what had happened?

Once again the Rinuses boarded the bus to Tel Aviv, to Machon Micah. After repeating all the tests, the doctors were no less surprised than the parents themselves. They found that the baby's hearing had improved considerably, although they still found deficits. They instructed the parents to bring the baby back the next week for another round of tests.

The Rinuses took the baby home and it became clear that his hearing had indeed returned. He now responded to voices, to bells, to rattles: all the noises to which he had previously been impervious.

The parents continued to bring the baby for follow up tests at Machon Michah. After the fourth visit, one of the directors of the clinic invited the parents in to a conference. As soon as they entered her office, she said, "I have no scientific explanation for the transformation in your child's hearing! This is a medical miracle of the first degree. The facts in this case are clear: When you first brought your son, he was profoundly deaf, and now his hearing is completely normal with no deficits at all. There is no need for you to continue bringing him to the clinic..."

 Despite the years that have passed since then, the Rinuses have never lost their awe and gratitude to G-d for the amazing miracle He performed. The child grew up and it became clear that he was blessed with a sharp mind and many talents, all of which have been put to full use without any handicaps whatsoever.


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