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Midnight In The Emergency Room


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This true story took place in Brooklyn, New York.

It was a wintry, dark afternoon when my father collapsed before my eyes. He slumped over in the front passenger seat in the car and lost consciousness. When he slowly and dazedly opened his eyes, he was weak and pale.

I called Hatzalah, and minutes later we were zooming down Ocean Parkway to the Kings Highway Community Hospital.

This story happened late on a Friday afternoon. By the time we got to the hospital, it was Shabbos. The doctors diagnosed my father with a heart attack and admitted him to the ICU. I was alone, with no friends in this neighborhood. I sat on a hard plastic orange seat in the emergency waiting room, trying to avoid the loud TV. I was alone, tired, hungry, and sick with a bad cold. I had no prospects for a Shabbos meal or a place to rest. I faced the next 24 hours alone in the waiting room of the emergency room.

Time passed. The hands on the large clock soulessly glided around and around its face. I listened to the operator paging doctors. I looked at the candies and cookies in the candy machine. At around 1 a.m., there I was, still sniffling and trying to find a comfortable position on the hard chair under the fluorescent lights.

At about 1:30 a.m., an agitated woman rushed into the emergency room, dragging a little boy by the hand. The woman was wearing a snood, and the little boy in pajamas wore a large, embroidered kippah.

A short time later, she walked out much with a relieved expression on her face. We exchanged a few words, and she told me that the boy had hurt himself, and she had wanted to ascertain that there were no broken bones. The doctors reassured her that he was perfectly fine, and she was on her way back home.

I hurriedly told her my situation, and asked if I could possibly spend the night in her home. She was a little taken aback, but soon agreed, and there we were, walking home through the deserted streets at 2 a.m.

In the wee hours of the morning, she served me a warm meal, and then told me that the woman who stayed in her attic apartment was away for Shabbos, and that I could sleep in that apartment. Incredibly, that tenant turned out to be one of my good friends!

I spent the rest of that Shabbos enjoying this kind family’s caring and hospitality. I felt that Hashem had seen my predicament, and had sent this woman out into the cold night to the hospital with a perfectly healthy boy to bring me to a warm home.

Hashem will inevitably put us into difficult situations throughout our lives. There’s no escaping that, so don’t even try. But when He does, make sure to look around for the angels He sends to remind you that you are never alone.

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Rav Yosef, shlita, born in Krakow in 1919, was 18 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. He came from an illustrious Belzer family of talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars), dayanim (judges), and people renowned for their charity and kindness. He had the privilege of meeting the Belzer Rebbe, zt”l, a number of times, as well as spending yamim tovim in Belz. All this left a deep and holy impression on him.

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This true story took place in Brooklyn, New York.

It was a wintry, dark afternoon when my father collapsed before my eyes. He slumped over in the front passenger seat in the car and lost consciousness. When he slowly and dazedly opened his eyes, he was weak and pale.

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