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Friday, December 3, 2021 - 29 Kislev 5782
 
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Taken in Hand

Rafi Peretz worked as a technician in a cement factory in Afula, Israel. His job was to operate a machine that mixed the concrete and then poured it onto a conveyor belt. One day, he noticed that the conveyor belt was moving exceedingly slowly. He approached the mixer to figure out the problem, and discovered that excess sand had built up inside the drum and was slowing down the machine.

Rafi began to clean out the sand from the machine, and that's when the accident happened. With a careless move, his hand got stuck inside the mixer. As Rafi screamed in horror, the mixer continued to rotate inexorably, crushing the bones of his hand and ripping two of his fingers to shreds.

After an interminable moment, the machine somehow stopped working. This mixer had a capacity of 60 tons of concrete, and it was inconceivable that it could be stopped by a human hand alone. But this fortunate interruption saved Rafi's hand from further damage.

Rafi was rushed to the emergency room at Haemek Hospital. His young wife, Sigal, was summoned there urgently and asked to make critical decisions on his behalf. Sigal, newly married, only eighteen years old, and due to give birth in a few months, was filled with fear and confusion. The doctors told her authoritatively that Rafi’s hand would never function again. “We must amputate his hand immediately. If we don't operate now, infection could set in and threaten your husband's life." They handed her a consent form and asked her to sign her agreement.

How could she, with her own hand, sign and condemn her husband to such a dreadful fate? But at her young age, it did not occur to Sigal to challenge the opinion of the doctors. With a heavy heart, she signed the consent, and then burst into helpless tears.

For a long while Sigal stood there and sobbed, alone and without support. After about an hour, a woman approached and took pity on the anguished young woman. "Is there anything I can help you with?" she asked gently.

"How could you help me?" Sigal replied bitterly, her eyes reddened with tears."They are about to amputate my husband's hand. With my own hand I signed the consent for this," she said brokenly.

"I can definitely help you," the woman assured her. "I am a chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Tell me all the details, and give me your husband's name and his mother's name. I will send your story to the Rebbe and ask for his blessing. Surely it will help."

At first Sigal did not comprehend what the woman wanted from her. Within a few moments the surgeons would operate on her husband and amputate his hand. How would the Rebbe help? But the confidence that emanated from this woman had an effect on her. Sigal agreed to take upon herself a good resolution -- to give more money to charity -- in merit of Rafi's speedy recovery. However, she did not have much faith that the Rebbe's blessing would make a difference.

After several hours, the door to the operating room opened. Rafi's stretcher was wheeled down the hall, and Sigal braced herself for her first view of Rafi's bandaged stump. She approached him, her heart beating wildly, and to her shock saw that both hands were still attached to Rafi’s body. The hand was not amputated! She checked again and again, to make sure she wasn't dreaming.

Sigal could not contain her excitement and went over to one of the surgeons. "Doctor, please explain what is happening. You didn't amputate Rafi's hand?"

"No, we did not amputate," the doctor said reassuringly.

"What happened?" Sigal demanded.

The doctor explained that everything was ready for the amputation. Rafi's arm was anesthetized and the surgeons were standing ready with their equipment. Suddenly the hospital's chief surgeon entered the operating room. He had already gone home for the day, and remembered that he had left something important in the operating room. Seeing all the activity, he went over to the patient for a closer look.

After inspecting Rafi's mangled hand, the doctor said decisively, "You are not amputating this hand! This man is young and his body will be able to heal with extensive physical therapy. Do everything you can to save the hand." The chief surgeon remained in the operating room and personally performed the surgery, to ensure that Rafi's hand would regain as much functionality as possible.

A flash ran through Sigal's brain. She was certain that G-d Himself had arranged matters  so that the head of surgery should leave something in that room, and come back just in time to change the course of Rafi's surgery. "Where is that woman who told me she would ask the Rebbe for a blessing?" she thought to herself.

The following day, the same woman came to the hospital. She was certain that the Rebbe's blessing would be effective, and she came to see the results with her own eyes.

The rehabilitation period took a year and a half. The doctors  had repaired his shattered bones and nerves. With great patience and motivation on the part of Rafi -- and Sigal -- he went through a course of therapy and his hand was  restored to its former functioning.

Today, nearly twenty years later, Rafi runs his own taxi business in the city of Safed and even drives one himself -- with the hand that was almost amputated. "The Rebbe's blessings literally flow through my veins," he says.
 

 


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