Less than a week before Purim I was in the maternity ward of a hospital in Yerushalayim visiting a young mother who had just given birth via a C-section. While other new mothers were up and about, chatting and smiling, bringing their babies to and from the nursery, and eating in the dining room, the woman I was visiting was in too much pain for such seemingly simple activities. Getting in and out of bed, walking, and even just moving from a lying to a sitting position were filled with too much pain to allow her to attempt any movements other than those that were absolutely necessary. I was visiting and helping her.
The day after she gave birth I was leaving her room to get her some water when I noticed in the distance a bearded man in green hospital scrubs. I didn’t pay any attention to him and kept on walking. Suddenly I heard someone call my name. It wasn’t a familiar voice and I assumed that he was calling a different Naomi. He called again and again, so I finally looked in the direction of the voice. It was the man in the scrubs. “Are you Naomi?” he asked me in Hebrew. I answered affirmatively, assuming that he had me mixed up with a different Naomi.
Then he said, enthusiastically, “It’s me, David. Rachel just had a baby! Come see her!” I looked again, this time with great surprise as I noticed that he was standing beside a bassinet. His wife’s mother was my good friend, and I had arranged David and Rachel’s shidduch. We all stayed in touch, and while I knew that Rachel was scheduled to have a C-section in this hospital, it was supposed to take place the following week – the Wednesday after Purim. But this was the Thursday before.
As I approached David, I asked the logical question: “What are you doing here? I thought Rachel was scheduled for next week.” “It’s a story,” he said, “but first come see our baby.” I looked into the bassinet and saw an adorable baby girl. “Mazel tov!” I said happily (please remember that I had special feelings toward this sweet neshamah since I was her parents’ shadchanit). “Thank you,” said David with great joy. “You’re the third person to see her except for the doctors.” And then I asked again: “But how come she gave birth today? I thought she was scheduled for next week.” “Listen to this,” he said, beginning an unforgettable story.
David and Rachel live at least an hour from Yerushalayim, but Rachel wanted to give birth specifically in this hospital because her parents live in Yerushalayim and because she wanted to have a specific doctor, highly recommended to her, deliver the baby. Months before the scheduled surgery, she was given a date for the operation. She wanted to give birth as close to 40 weeks as possible, but the doctors didn’t want to take the chance that she give birth too late. So they compromised, giving her a date that turned out to be on a Wednesday, a few days after Purim. She would, of course, have to come in for standard pre-operation examinations, including blood tests, ultrasound, etc.
Elective C-sections were only on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the pre-op examinations were on the previous Sunday or Tuesday. The pre-op tests could be a maximum of three days ahead of the surgery because the blood tests are not good for more than three days (the tests wouldn’t be valid if they were taken more than three days before the operation). Rachel, told to come in on Sunday for the pre-op tests, said she didn’t want to take the tests on Purim. So instead of giving her the logical date of two days later (Tuesday), the day before the surgery, they went to the previous week and scheduled her for Thursday – even though the operation would be the following Wednesday. No one noticed that the appointment was much too early according to all the rules – as well as all logic.