Ayal was a young boy standing on the (Lubavitcher) Rebbe’s platform next to the shtender. He looked curiously at the figure who was crying, covered by a tallis. It was the tefilla of Ne’ila, and although he knew this was a special tefilla, he did not appreciate the gravity of the moment. It bothered him to hear the Rebbe cry, and he wondered why he did so. Ayal did not realize that the Rebbe was praying for his well-being, for the doctors had told his father that Ayal had only three months left to live......
Ayal had been having constant headaches for a few weeks. He was the 11-year-old son of an Israeli diplomat who worked at the Israeli Consulate in New York. The family had left Eretz Yisroel for two years, and Ayal went to a local Jewish school.
The Israeli Consulate had celebrated the release of the Jewish hostages in Entebbe just a few days before. Ayal had attended the party, too. He looked proudly at his father who was shaking the hands of famous and wealthy Jews.
The party was when the terrible headaches began. He complained and was given aspirin, but the pain did not abate.
The doctor who examined him confirmed the parents’
suspicion of a virus and recommended bed rest. Three weeks passed and finally the headaches disappeared. But then one day, when Ayal’s parents were busy with their day-to-day activities, Ayal woke up with a headache again, a stabbing pain on the right side of his head, so deep and painful he couldn’t tolerate it. The doctor sent Ayal for tests at a top Manhattan hospital.
Another two weeks passed. Ayal’s parents came home from work to be greeted by Ayal. Although his father smiled and his mother patted him on the head, he noticed their red and swollen eyes. Something was wrong, but his father reassured him that nothing had happened and that he hoped everything would be fine. Ayal knew that something was going on, and he knew that it had something to do with his headaches.
At supper, Ayal demanded to know what they were hiding from him. After much hesitation, Ayal’s father leveled with his son, telling him the doctors had discovered a tumor. Ayal did not fully comprehend the significance of what had been said, yet seeing his father’s shaking hand and his mother’s tears led him to ask, “Is it bad?” His father admitted it wasn’t good but that they would overcome it.
From that day forward, Ayal underwent a plethora of tests, treatments, pain and sorrow.
* * *
Erev Yom Kippur 5737. Jews had come from all over the metropolitan area, joining with the guests and Chassidim who had come to spend Tishrei with the Rebbe. They stood there for hours waiting to receive lekach (honey cake) from the Rebbe along with a blessing for a good and sweet year.
Among the thousands of black hats and shtreimlach, the two white yarmulkes of Ayal and his father stood out. A friend who worked at the Consulate had suggested that they get a bracha from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe’s miracles were well known, and what better way to spend the holy day of Yom Kippur than with the Rebbe. A Lubavitcher who regularly visited the Consulate made arrangements for a place for them to stay, and now they awaited the Rebbe’s blessing.
The Rebbe usually smiled at children, but that Erev Yom Kippur he did not smile at Ayal. The Rebbe wished them a good and sweet year with a very somber look on his face.
Ayal’s father sent him to their host’s home to break his fast and rest until Ne’ila. The pushing and crowding were intensifying as the time for Napoleon’s March neared. The Rebbe suddenly raised his tallis and gazed at the crowd with a grim look on his face before turning to his secretary. The secretary then announced that all the children in shul were to go up to the Rebbe’s bima (platform). People made way for the children, wondering what the Rebbe’s intentions were.
The Rebbe stood there watching and waiting. Ayal’s father was beside himself. Why did I send Ayal home? He could have been standing next to the Rebbe! He left a long time ago. Why hadn’t he come back yet?
Hundreds of children were on the bima. The chazan was eager to continue davening, but the Rebbe was still waiting. Finally, another child suddenly arrived. It was Ayal, who was lifted over the crowd to the Rebbe’s bima. His father breathed a sigh of relief. As soon as Ayal stood on the bima, the Rebbe led the singing of “Avinu Malkeinu.” Those who stood near the Rebbe could hear the Rebbe crying. Finally, when the davening was over, the Rebbe smiled as he looked at the children.
* * *
Late at night, Ayal’s parents were getting ready for bed. Ayal emerged from his bedroom and announced, “I think the headache is gone. I want you to take me for tests immediately.”
Ayal’s father was worn out. He was unused to fasting and the crush and heat of 770, and he simply told Ayal to go and get a good night’s sleep. They had an appointment for more tests scheduled in four days time. They thought they would wait until then to check out their son’s claim. But Ayal insisted that he was perfectly fine and that he wanted to be tested immediately to prove it. He seemed so sure of himself that his parents agreed to have the appointment moved up to the next day.
A few days later during supper, Ayal’s father burst into the house and while crying and laughing managed to say, “You were right!”
Ayal and his father went to thank the Rebbe personally during the Hakafos of Simchas Torah. The Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., Mr. Chayim Herzog, took a group of people who worked at the Consulate to the Rebbe, Ayal and his father among them. They were given a place near the Rebbe, who gave them special attention. When the Rebbe turned to Ayal’s father, the latter presented his son to him.
“Thank you Rebbe. I am well,” said Ayal shyly. Ayal’s father emotionally added, “The Rebbe saved his life!” The Rebbe smiled and waved away the comments saying, “Give thanks to Hashem, and always remember that He did this miracle for you.”
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא