Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Amram and Evelyn Cohen were married for 16 years without children. Every year they would go to Meron on Lag Ba’Omer and pray at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and ask that they be blessed with children. After 16 years the doctors told them there was no hope. Evelyn couldn’t possibly bear children, they should give up and adopt.

That year, on Lag Ba’Omer, they went again to Meron. It was crowded near the grave of Shimon Bar Yochai. Amram went to visit the grave of Yochanan HaSandlar nearby which was empty of people. And there he poured out his heart and cried. He said that like there was no one at this grave, he too is all alone, that all these years he had been putting his faith both in Hashem and in doctors. Now he was putting his faith only in Hashem and that he knew Hashem could help him. He promised that if he had a son, he would dedicate him to a life of Torah (He and his wife were religious but not extremely so and he promised they would become more so). And Amram promised that if he had a son he would name him after the Tanna, after Yochanan HaSandlar. And with his tears, his pleas and his faith, he felt the gates of Heaven opening to his prayer.

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Ten months later, to the astonishment of the doctors, Amram and Evelyn were blessed with a boy. Amram wanted to call him Yochanan HaSandlar as he had promised, but Evelyn was afraid the other children would make fun of him so they called him plain Yochanan. But everyone knew whom the child was named after.

Yochanan grew up and fulfilled his father’s promise. He is a rabbi teaching at Yeshivat Nachalat Yisrael in Ashdod and he and his wife Shifra have been blessed with 11 children. Amram didn’t live to see his grandchildren, Evelyn lived to see two. But both lived to see a miracle, one of many in Meron.

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