The first part of this series emphasized the importance of
reciting the Asher Yotzar blessing with full
concentration, standing stock-still for the duration of the
twenty seconds it takes each time. Not very much time to
devote to thanking Hashem for such a vital process that keeps
us healthy. All told, only two minutes a day, well invested
in keeping a person healthy.
Our second story involves one that my husband and I heard
first hand, the names of which have been changed to maintain
"We're having two guests for Shabbos," I told my husband, a
Rosh Yeshiva in Ohr Somayach. "A man knocked on the door
today, introduced himself as a former talmid, said he
was here on business and asked if he and his seven-year-old
son could come for a Shabbos meal."
They came, two very special guests, one more special than the
other. Young Chaim, you see, is a blind, formerly autistic
child. The reader makes a double-take at the word `formerly.'
No mistake. Shimon tells the story:
Chaim came into the world in a small hospital in the north of
Israel which was not fully equipped to deal with a premature
baby. He was born blind and at the age of six, was still
unable to speak or control his bodily functions.
Other, normal, children were born to the family, which
eventually relocated to a city with a strong Torah community
in America, where the father continued to be involved in
chinuch and business. Time came to enroll the boy in a
school, as law requires, but the only institution in this
city capable of receiving Chaim, who was tested and
officially diagnosed as autistic, was an inner-city special
public school kindergarten. Shimon had no choice, but was
deeply pained at the prospect.
One night, Shimon woke up and found his face drenched with
tears. Not a generally emotional person, he awoke to a sense
of extreme despair for the future of his son, and continued
to weep until morning, as he must have wept in his sleep.
He went off to shul feeling very depressed, still in
the throes of the crying jag, unable to cast off his
desperation. Where was the key that would unlock the sealed
world of his firstborn? he asked himself. As he washed his
hands before prayer, his eyes lit upon a large Asher
Yotzar poster prominently displayed by the sink. And an
idea struck him, like a bolt of lightning -- he would later
say. It was sheer divine inspiration.
He looked up the address at the bottom of the poster and
immediately obtained three hundred such posters, for which he
insisted on paying. That day -- and it took almost all day --
he distributed them throughout the city: in shuls, schools --
for boys and for girls -- in all public Jewish institutions.
And he went home with a sense of relief and
Dear Readers: I heard this from Shimon's very mouth at our
own Shabbos table!
The following morning, Chaim awoke and went to the bathroom,
for the very first time, all by himself. And ever after, he
has tended to his sanitary needs, all by himself. But these
apertures were not the only ones that his father's prayers
and deeds had opened.
Chaim began to TALK, that very day! Not began -- he talked,
like a six-year-old. Within a very short time, he was able to
daven, say all the blessings, even the entire
bircas hamozon, from memory! We heard Chaim sing a
medley of zemiros, correctly from memory, at our own
Shabbos table in the most angelic voice you have ever
"Chaim is very musical. He plays two instruments," his father
told us proudly. In fact, after his `awakening', almost all
of his `autistic' mannerisms disappeared and his high I.Q.
found its expression in rapid learning. Within a span of a
single year, Chaim proved himself to be a very gifted, highly
Shimon's pain was now greater than ever. His son, having been
diagnosed by the Board of Education as autistic, would have
to remain in the public school. It was a lifetime label.
According to them, autism was a congenital condition from
which one did not ever recover.
How were we privileged with a visit from this father-and-son?
It was at this point that Shimon decided to come to Eretz
Yisroel, where a world-recognized authority on mental
handicaps in children now lived, having retired and made
aliya. A testing by this expert together with his
recommendation would carry much weight back in Shimon's home
Chaim was brought before the expert, who did not need more
than a few moments to declare, "This child is as autistic as
The miracle of Asher Yotzar!
To be continued...