Home > Judaism, Rabbi Baruch Lederman > Rescue saved not only the drowning girl

Rescue saved not only the drowning girl

November 14, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO–Avraham & Sarah, Yitzchok & Rivkah all lived their lives with faith and dedication to Hashem. They understood the power of mitzvos and prayer, and they realized the Hashem  runs the world. This is an inheritance to their descendents as the following true story illustrates:
There was a chareidi (religious) family that took a vacation to Teveria. The wife and two daughters went down to the Kineret to go swimming. The girls started to wade in the water.

The older daughter steps too far in and is swept into a current, but she couldn’t swim, and begins to go under. The mother is watching as the daughter is pleading for her life, but the  mother can’t swim.

The mother runs onto the highway, desperately trying to flag down cars for help. Finally an elegant car stops and a well dressed man asks what’s happening. The mother screams  my daughter is drowning. He throws off his coat and runs and dives into the water.

He  comes up with the little girl. The mother breathes a sigh of relief for a moment, until she realizes that this was the younger daughter who must have
jumped in to save the older daughter. She screams “I have another daughter there!” He jumps back in and screams “Where is she? Where is she?” The mother is pointing   “Over there, over there.” He dives to the bottom and begins to drag her limp body to the shore, but now there are people on the shore, who are screaming “Her head is still in the  water! Her head is still in the water. Lift it out!!!” He lifts her head and puts it on his shoulder and brings her ashore.

They called the ambulance, but her head was in the water too long, there’s nothing they can do. They go off to the hospital, and the doctors say there’s no hope. The family began davening for a miracle. They’re waiting and waiting, davening. The Doctor took an MRI, and when he saw the results, runs back in and said, “I can’t believe it, regular brain activity  resumed”. The daughter finally wakes up and leaves the hospital two days later. The doctors said they never saw anything like it, she was deprived of oxygen for so long.

A few days later, the family made a Seudas Hod’ah (meal of thanks) to thank G-d for the miracle, and wanted to invite the man who rescued their daughter. They couldn’t find him, so thought maybe he called into the hospital to see how she was, and they were right. They found him. He was an attorney from a non observant kibbutz, with no connection to  yiddishkeit his whole life. They invited him to the seudah and he told them this story. He was recovering from a heart attack before this incident, and he and his wife were headed  up North for a vacation, when he saw this chareidi woman in the street.

He told the family that he had been sick for awhile, and used to be an Olympic swimmer, but hadn’t swam in YEARS. But just last month, as part of his therapy for the heart attack,  he started to swim laps. He told them that If he hadn’t done this he wouldn’t have been in shape to rescue their daughters. “As I was pulling your second daughter to shore, and  realized during those crucial last few moments, I didn’t bring her head above the water, I was going out of my mind.”

Afterwards, I came home and cried to my wife, “I killed that girl.” My wife said what are you talking about, you saved her. You risked your life. “But I’m so stupid, I didn’t take her  head out of the water.” No, she said, you just didn’t realize. “NO, She died because of my stupidity” I said, “It was my fault, she would have lived!”.

I ran back to that place, and climbed to the top of a mountain, and I said, “Ribbono Shel Olam (Master of the Universe), never in my life did I pray to you. I was raised on a kibbutz,  and laughed at prayer. I wouldn’t be caught dead praying; I would have been so embarrassed. G-d, this is the first time in my life I’m praying to you. I’ll never be able to live this  down. I won’t be able to go on. PLEASE, Hashem, consider it as if I prayed to you my whole life, and combine all those prayers that I could have said, and use them to save this  girl. Please G-d”

“I went back home and called the hospital, and they told me that an hour ago (as I was saying this prayer) she woke up!”

This story was told by Rabbi Fishel Schacter who pointed out that instead of falling to despair, he took that broken heart, and instead of letting it turn into depression and sadness,  he converted it into Tefillah. A tefillah that he never had before in his life. And miracles came from it. There are moments in life that we think we blew it. Those very moments, if used  correctly, are the seeds for redemption.

Dedicated by Avraham & Roz Dimenstein in memory of Rabbi Henry & Rebbetzin Esther Soille.

Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego

  1. PJ
    January 7, 2010 at 5:30 am

    I’m not Jewish but I do believe in the Creator and that story was amazing, heartwarming, and inspiring

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