A story about the power of prayer, for these days in which we are so involved in prayer.
Just around now is the first yahrtzeit of HaRav Yisrael David Beringer zt"l of Bnei Brak. He was the subject of a very interesting and instructive story.
Nine years ago, HaRav Yisrael David didn't feel well. He was taken to the hospital and rushed into Intensive Cardiac Care. His condition was diagnosed as critical and he was cared for with extreme efficiency and devotion but notwithstanding, the medical staff very soon decided that he was on the verge of death. The family, however, was not aware of the true severity of his condition.
The head of the department decided to speak to the Rebbetzin and the son who were at the side of HaRav David to inform them of the dire state of the patient. He summoned them into a private room where medical students were also present, partly also to learn the human side — of how a doctor breaks such terrible news to the family.
The professor asked the mother and son to sit down and then began explaining the complexity of the patient's condition. He spoke solemnly, slowly describing the state, step by step, until he broke the bitter news: "We have done our best but he only has a few hours left to live."
The Rebbetzin left the room and burst into tears. "And I," the son tells us, "began informing my siblings of the state of things so that they rend the Heavens with their prayers."
"It was a terrible shock; the anxiety was at a high pitch. Several of my brothers rushed to the hospital so as to be by my father's bedside at the time of his demise. The emotion all around was pitched very high.
"However, following three days and nights in ICU and then two days in the cardiac ward the Rav was ready to be released from the hospital. His condition had altogether stabilized. Indeed, five days after entering the hospital, the doctor authorized his release!
"As he was about to leave, I was at my father's side when the head of the cardiac department came towards us with the release papers duly signed. He suddenly turned to me and said, `Excuse me, but were you present when your father was brought here five days ago?'
"He smiled with satisfaction and said, `We did it! You are a witness to what happened; you saw in what state he arrived; you heard my prognosis and see how he is now about to leave.'
"I couldn't help asking, `And what were the chances of his survival at the time?'
"He replied, `Look here, thousands of people arrive here in similar condition whereas only a few dozen, at best, survive. I personally didn't give him any hope and didn't want to foster any false expectations. But you see — we succeeded!'
"`Honored Professor, with your permission, I would like to tell you a story.' I sat down. Asking my father's pardon, I began telling the following tale:
"They say that after the former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, suddenly fell into a deep coma, his son turned to the doctors and asked very candidly, `Can you tell me if others before him, in the same state as my father, ever came out of such a coma? Or is this an irreversible condition? Is there any hope for him ever returning to consciousness or would it be like someone coming back from the grave?'
Ariel Sharon could not use this therapy
"The doctor said that in the history of his department, there was only one such case of a recovery. He then turned to the computer and began scanning the files until he dredged up the name. It was a man, we'll call him R' Yudel, now in his seventies who lived in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem.
"Sharon's son was galvanized into action. He rushed out, found the address and knocked on the door, asking if he could enter. The family opened it and ushered him in.
"He introduced himself: `I am Omri Sharon, son of the prime minister Ariel Sharon. You are surely aware that my father has been lying in a coma for some time now. The medical staff has tried numerous methods to arouse him but nothing has availed. The head of the department told me that you are the only one who was in the same condition but has survived to tell the story. You had already been transferred to a different establishment which only keeps the patients alive in a vegetative state through tubes and various hookups. Tell me, how is it that one fine day you woke up and returned to a productive life? As I see you, you are still alive and in good health.
"`What did you do? What did others do for you? Have you any wise advice for my father as well? Did you or your family do anything that the doctors in the hospital don't know about?'
"`Silence reigned in the simple Jerusalem apartment. Finally, Reb Yudel spoke up.
"`It was indeed a great miracle. Yes, something special was done, but it is not at all relevant for your father.'
"Omri Sharon smiled. `My father is a strong and powerful person. He can withstand any difficult treatment and we will stop at nothing that gives him a chance to return to public life. Besides, we have the means, both public and private, to get whatever it takes.'
"Reb Yudel smiled apologetically and said, `The process I underwent is totally irrelevant with regard to your father. It's impossible for him.'
"`As an Israeli prime minister, I can do anything and everything for him, no matter what the cost or difficulty. I can have him transferred to any hospital in the whole world or alternately, bring the best doctors to treat him here in Israel. We have everything at our disposal,' he added, somewhat angrily. `You make me laugh at your doubts.'
"But Reb Yudel stood his ground. `What I underwent — and I can honestly say that I was born anew — cannot be duplicated for your father even if he happens to be the Israeli prime minister.'
"Omri was losing his patience. `Relevant or irrelevant, speak up, tell me and get it over with already!'
"Reb Yudel was very serious. Two large tears coursed down his cheeks into his white beard. `Does your father have sixty descendants, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, who will weep and pray, rending the Heavens with their tears that their father should recover? That their grandfather be able to return to his humble home? Can you father arrange that?'
"This is the story I told over to the head of the cardiac department," said HaRav Yosef's son. "This is what I heard, but I do not know for certain it is true.
"I added to him in a firm voice, `The Professor did not give my father the slightest chance of survival. I remember vividly that you gave him only a few hours more to live. I want you to know and I want my father, who is sitting here, fully recovered, to hear what I am saying: My dear father has over one hundred and thirty descendants who prayed and prayed with all their heart throughout these past five days; they wept and beseeched the Healer of all Flesh, the One Who performs wonders, to have pity on their father and grandfather and perform a miracle. And now you come and say, `We did it'?'
"The esteemed professor rose to his feet and said, `You win.'
"We parted on very friendly terms, with his blessing for a long life."