On a Thursday, Shlomo* had been in and out of the hospital over the last few years. Among the most difficult times for him, was when he could not be home for Shabbat with his family. This time, however, he was told that he would go home that day. He just needed to wait for a portable oxygen tank to be brought to him.
The day dragged on, and yet the promised oxygen unit had not yet arrived. He was eventually informed that the unit would be available late that evening. It would be too late in the day for Shlomo, who tired easily now. They would wait until the morning, Erev Shabbat.
The next day, while Shlomo waited for his release, another family waited for help. A call had gone out to the emergency line. An ailing man of almost 90 had stopped breathing. CPR was applied by first responders. An ambulance team arrived. The old man’s heart beat was restored, but he was in critical condition. They rushed the man to the hospital, accompanied by his wife and son, Pinchas.
Meanwhile, Shlomo was getting upset. There were more delays in regard to the arrival of his oxygen. The unit finally arrived at 2:00 pm. There was still time before Shabbat to drive home with his wife. In the end, it was not meant to be. No doctor could be found in time to sign a release for Shlomo. Once again, he would be spending Shabbat away from home.
Shlomo was trying to deal with his disappointment when a new patient was wheeled into his room. A curtain was closed around the bed of the new arrival. He was accompanied by his tearful wife and his son Pinchas.
Shlomo and Pinchas looked at each other in amazement. They had been neighbors for many years. Their families knew each other well. Pinchas told his friend how he had felt that he would need to be with someone he knew to help him and his mother through a very difficult Shabbat. Hashem granted him and his mother this chesed.
Shabbat was fast approaching. The old woman stood next to Shlomo’s wife during a very emotional lighting of the Shabbat candles. As the old man lay unresponsive in his hospital bed, Pinchas found some grape juice and made kiddush for all of them. The two friends sang zemirot and shared divrei Torah. The two women sat quietly talking.
Early Shabbat morning, Shlomo and his wife took a short walk through the halls of the hospital. They were not gone long, but when they returned, Pinchas told them that his father had passed away. Once things settled down, the two friends went to the hospital shul. Later on, they also discussed some of the laws involved in aveilut in this case.
Meanwhile, Shlomo’s wife wondered where the newly widowed woman was. She found her sitting in a corner, alone. She went over to her and put a comforting hand on the distraught woman’s shoulder and sat down next to her. While Pinchas found comfort in his tefillot, his mother was comforted by sharing tears and memories with a very caring woman.
Shlomo no longer questioned why his discharge had been delayed. His meeting up with his friend that erev Shabbat was Yad Hashem at work.
*Names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the families.
Debbie Garfinkel Diament