Rabbi Danny Yaffe, who serves as youth rabbi in the Great Synagogue of Sydney, was recently contacted by a young Jewish man from overseas who was alone in an Australian hospital, and whose doctors thought his days on this earth were numbered. Rabbi Yaffe relates the miraculous and inspiring story that followed, which he agreed to share with our readers.
by Rabbi Danny Yaffe
I share this story with full permission from the person involved, without disclosing his real name. This story is related to you because it shows the tremendous power we have to actualise change in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Before Purim I met a twenty five year old young man, who was here from overseas. Being new in town, he wanted to meet young Jewish adults and extend his social circle, so I got him more involved. I then tried to invite him a few times for a Shabbos or Yom Tov meals, but to no avail. He didn’t return calls, or answer messages. Eventually, he called me after I invited him for a Shabbos, explaining his lack of contact over the past month. He had gone for a regular vaccine offered by his company, but a few hours later, his body went into a shock and began to shut down. He was currently in isolation, unable to attend the meal, and I was unable to visit due to safety concerns. We chatted a while, at which time I wished him well, and said I would pray for him. A week later I called back, now 2 days before Pesach, and wanted to find out how he was doing. It turned out he had undergone an operation, and everything was now fine. He was to be discharged on Erev Pesach. For first night Seder we had the honour of hosting him and his family who had come to support him during the operation, thank G-d all was well.
Thursday night about 3 weeks ago, I receive a message from the young man, expressing his urgent need to be in touch. This time the news was very different, his body had begun to shut down again, bearing a prognosis that he had one of two major diseases. There was a 60% chance it was cancer of the blood (they were certain of this) and if not cancer, then he was to be diagnosed with an auto immune disease.
Obviously this was causing him tremendous stress. He was not coping as he did not know what to do; he is not from Australia, his parents weren’t in town, and I was one of the few people he knew. We spoke on the phone and I set about calling different people to arrange a support system for him.
A few hours later, I drove to the hospital to meet him. We chatted for a few hours, and put the situation into perspective as best we could. He then asks me – “Rabbi, how can I prepare for the worst?”, to which I responded, “As Jews, we don’t prepare for the worst, we prepare for the best!” So I bring up the idea that based on the Jewish High Holiday liturgy, we discuss the three mitzvot that when combined, can erase any decree: Teshuva – repentance, Tefillah – prayer and Tzedokah – charity. We discussed their deeper esoteric meaning, as well as in practical terms.
That night, he took upon himself that when he would put on Tefillin he would take a few minutes longer to pray, as well as purchasing a new pair of Tefillin. For charity he accepted the positive resolution to give 5c every day. But for repentance it wasn’t so simple, to choose something he could do everyday, something that was easy to remember but private, until I remembered a story I had heard about a young man entering the army, whose father was concerned for his safety. He approached the Lubavitcher Rebbe and asked for a blessing. The Rebbe responded, that the boy should do the mitzvah of Netilas Yodaim, washing his hands every morning, and make a blessing after. One day, the boy forgot and only remembered as they left for patrol. He quickly ran back to do Netilas Yodaim. He then he heard the blast, and running back outside he saw his entire group had been killed in an ambush right outside base.
So that night, our young man decided to commence observing this special custom of Netilas Yodaim as well.
On Friday morning I receive a message from him, that 20 minutes after doing all three resolutions, his doctor had arrived to tell him that unexpectedly his liver had returned to full and perfect functioning order. Obviously this was good news, but perhaps there was another medical explanation!
Three days later, Monday morning, the good news and miracles starts coming in hard and fast. After a battery of tests, the doctors came to tell him that it’s 100% not cancer and on top of that, the second option they thought it was is also less likely now as well.
On Thursday, the doctors came back to tell him that all symptoms have disappeared. Finally, on the following Monday, his test are completed, and there is no trace whatsoever of illness of any kind.
Our friend ended his time in Australia 2 weeks ago, to go for more precautionary testing in the U.S!
He received a brand new pair of Teffilin and two additional names, now calling himself Yishayohu Mordachai Tzvi – In English Yishyohu – “G-d saved him”, Mordachoi – who was a righteous individual who was instrumental in saving the Jews and his fathers name Is Rafael – G-d will heal. Quite fitting in this case!
Here before us is a miracle. We cannot ever underestimate the simple mitzvos that we do our best to do and their tremendous abilities to draw down Nissim – Miracles.
I wish him only continued health and strength, may no one experience such trials as he was tested with.
Good health and good things only for you and yours!
Rabbi Danny Yaffe
The Great Synagogue Young Adult Division