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Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 12 Adar I 5784
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To Walk Again
by Tzvi Zimmerman

Since childhood, my daughter Shirley was a gifted athlete. Her favorite sport was swimming, and her trainers predicted a bright future. When she was 12 years old, in 1982, she had already won a number of local competitions in her hometown, Haifa.

Suddenly Shirley began to complain of pain in her legs. My wife and I thought it was due to her heavy exercising. Her doctor, after examining her, agreed with our assessment and advised Shirley to lay off exercising until the pains would subside. However, Shirley was stubborn. She ignored the doctor's advice and continued training for swimming competitions.

After a few days, the pains intensified, to the point that Shirley began to limp. We immediately had her hospitalized in the Carmel Hospital in Haifa. The doctors performed more tests but could not pinpoint the cause of her pain. Her legs weakened until she was unable to stand altogether.

I consulted with top orthopedic doctors in Israel. However, they were all unable to explain the sudden paralysis in Shirley's legs.

Six weeks passed, in which Shirley lay in bed in great pain. I remember lifting Shirley in my arms to feed her, to wash her. My eyes would fill with tears to see this decline in my active, athletic daughter.

One Thursday evening, the telephone rang in my office. My wife was on the line, and she told me that a half-hour ago, three young Chabadniks came to our door. Now they were waiting in my home to speak to me. She asked me to hurry home to find out what they wanted.

When I came home, I saw an unusual sight. Two of the Chabadniks were chatting in the kitchen with my older daughter. A third was playing piano and singing with my youngest son, Danny. My wife, who was exhausted from the difficult weeks, had gone to her room to lie down, leaving the children with the guests.

The Chabadniks were not perturbed at all by my sudden appearance. They felt completely at home. The three identified themselves as Gidi Sharon, Menashe Althaus and Zohar Eisenberg. They told me that they had heard of my daughter Shirley's difficulties, and wanted to help. They offered to write a letter on my behalf to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to request his blessing.

I gave my consent, and then there ensued a series of conversations between the Chabadniks and the Rebbe's secretariat in New York. On one occasion, the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Groner, asked to speak with me. He asked me several questions, and then told me that the Rebbe had promised to pray for Shirley at the gravesite of his father-in-law, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe.

In accordance with the Rebbe's instructions, the young Chabadniks removed the mezuzot from my doorposts for inspection. The first mezuzah to be inspected was from the door of Shirley's bedroom. They unrolled the mezuzah and began reading through it, letter by letter. When they came to the word "u'vkumecha" (when you will stand up) they stopped. The letter Kuf in the word was rubbed out, which rendered the mezuzah unfit. They had brought with them an extra kosher mezuzah, which they proceeded to affix on the doorpost of Shirley's room.

Personally, I was not all that convinced that changing the mezuzah on Shirley's bedroom door would have any effect on her legs. But the Chabadniks had utmost confidence that Shirley's recovery was practically a done deal. They wanted to make a toast, as if Shirley had already begun to walk again. "You'll see," said Eisenberg. "The Rebbe has given his blessing, the mezuzah was replaced - everything will be OK now."

We said L'chaim, and the young men went off on their way.

The next day, Friday, I went to the hospital early in the morning to visit Shirley. When I got to the hallway leading to Shirley's ward, I rubbed my eyes in surprise - Shirley was walking towards me! She was still limping and leaning on a walker, but she was on her own two feet.

After Shabbat, Shirley was released from the hospital. Her condition improved rapidly and the pains subsided. After two weeks, she was back in school and showed no signs of the pain or paralysis. The doctors admitted that they could find no cause for her sickness or for its sudden disappearance.


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