Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rav Ovadiah And The Doctor

By Jack E. Rahmey

Another current day story that I read in Hacham Ovadia's Artscroll biography was of a miracle that was performed by Hacham Ovadia to benefit Hacham Baruch Ben Haim, [zt”l who lived in Flatbush].

Hacham Baruch Ben Haim Hacham Ovadia Yosef

Approximately 15 years ago, Hacham Ovadia’s close friend, Rabbi Hacham Baruch Ben-Haim sustained a serious heart attack and he lay unconscious in the hospital for several months. 

A medical referral specialist in New York spoke to his doctors at length and informed the family that the main problem was not with Hacham Baruch's heart, but with his lungs. There was only one doctor in the New York area who could treat this problem, and he worked far from the hospital in which Hacham Baruch lay. 

The family called this doctor and asked whether he would be willing to examine Hacham Baruch, but he refused, explaining that he had no time. Even when they offered him a large sum of money for his services, he could not be swayed. His patient roster was simply too full to make time to examine someone in a faraway hospital.

The family was wondering what to do next, when Rav David Yosef, [the son of Hacham Ovadia]who happened to be in New York at the time and was privy to their conversation. He asked whether he could perhaps speak to the doctor, who he heard, was a non-religious Jew. “Perhaps I can speak to his Jewish heart,” Rav David suggested.

He called the doctor and asked, “Have you heard of Harav Ovadia Yosef?” "Certainly,” replied the doctor.

“Well, his childhood friend is lying the hospital, unconscious, and I'm certain that Rabbi Yosef would greatly appreciate it if you could examine his friend.” 

“Oh, he's Rabbi Yosef's friend?” The doctor asked in surprise. “I'm coming right down.” 

Thankfully, the doctor was able to diagnose Hacham Baruch correctly. Within a few weeks he had returned to full function, and he lived for another two years. When the family called the doctor's office to settle payment, they were astonished to hear that the doctor did not want money.

“I didn't do this for pay,” he explained. “I owed this to Rabbi Yosef.”

He then shared his fascinating story. Several years earlier, this doctor's son had visited Israel, and wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time. While he was in Yerushalayim, a terrorist detonated a suicide bomb right beside him. The doctor received a call that his son had been rushed to Hadassah Hospital in critical condition. He booked the next flight to Israel and ran to his son's bedside, but despite his medical knowledge, there was little that he could do for his son. 

Having heard about great rabbis and their power of blessing, he asked someone to arrange for him to visit some of these rabbis. Each rabbi whose house he visited empathized with his plight and promised to pray for his son. When he reached Harav Ovadia's home, the Rav listened to him, and then closed his Gemara and told his driver, “Come, we're going to Hadassah.”

When they reached this young man's room, Harav Ovadia began to recite chapter after chapter of Tehillim, with tears streaming down his face. After 15 minutes of crying the words of Tehillim, he blessed the young man to have a Refuah Shelemah, and left. 

“My son had a miraculous recovery,” the doctor related. “And if Rabbi Yosef, who was thoroughly engrossed in his books when I walked in, was willing to drop everything and run to my son's bedside, didn't I owe him the same in return when his friend's life was on the line?”

Rav David Yosef

When I told my father what had transpired, he was overwhelmed with emotion,” concludes Rav David Yosef. “He said, ‘Who would have thought that my visit to that boy's bedside would lead to Hacham Baruch's recovery?'’”

Reprinted from the Parasha Yitro 5777 Perspective by Jack E. Rahmey with the teachings and guidance of Rabbi Amram Sanane.