Photo Credit: Courtesy
Rav Kanievsky holding Shlomo Alexander Klein at his bris.

As I watch my adorable little great-grandson Shlomo at play, my mind takes me back three years to when he was born. Actually it goes back three and a half years.

My granddaughter Rachayli was just not feeling well. In fact, as she said to her husband, Shaul, “It feels as if I am pregnant, but that can’t be, because I am on birth control pills.” But as the weeks passed and she wasn’t feeling any better, she finally went for an examination. And that is when she discovered that not only was she pregnant but she was entering her fourth month.


Good news indeed, then why did the technician have that look on his face. The doctor soon explained that although her pregnancy was progressing, she had very little amniotic fluid which is vital for the baby to live and develop. As this was to be her fourth child, the doctor held out some hope that in the next few weeks things would improve.

Rachayli went back every week and finally it was decided to hospitalize her and monitor her on a constant basis. There was very little improvement and the doctors and nurses starting telling her just how serious things would be if the baby was born. Truthfully they didn’t expect the baby to be born and if he was born they didn’t expect him to live more than a few hours. And in the rare chance that he did live beyond that, he would be severely disabled.

Rachayli was distraught. There she was lying in Hadassah Hospital, being monitored every two hours and getting the most dire prognosis. Her obstetrician suggested that he do some further testing, but he needed their permission for the tests. Rachayli and Shaul faced each other in despair. What does a Torah-true Jew do in such a case? Shaul said that he would go to see Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky for a beracha. He took his family rabbi with him and as the situation was urgent he was ushered in to see the rav. Shaul explained the situation and a beracha was given. Then in desperation Shaul asked for an eitzah (advice). Rabbi Kanievsky was very definite. He said let them take all the ultrasounds necessary, but don’t do any testing. Do not listen to the doctors if they want to experiment. And that was that.

Rachayli comes from a family of medical professionals. Her father is a well-known cardiologist, her brother is in medical school, one sister is a nurse practitioner and another sister is a nurse, as is one of her sisters-in-law. Don’t listen to the doctors? But the gadol ha’dor had given his eitzah. And that was what they followed.

The weeks passed and it was very hard for Rachayli lying in bed away from her young children, hearing gloomy predictions. Suddenly, at the end of January there was movement on the monitor and she was rushed into surgery for a C-Section, nine weeks before her due date.

Mazal Tov, it’s a boy! He weighed 1.6 kilo and was put into the NICU and hooked up to all sorts of machines. As the parents looked at him, none of the physical abnormalities predicted were present. However, he had bleeding in his brain and had a hole in his heart. They were hoping he would get healthy enough to have surgery. The days went by and we were all praying for the little boy of Rachel Miriam. And then a miracle happened and the bleeding stopped. A miracle, said the doctors. And then the hole in his heart closed up. Another miracle they all said. After four weeks he was discharged from the hospital and after two more weeks he was deemed healthy enough to have his bris.

Who would be the sandek? Rachayli and Shaul looked at each other and had the exact same thought. If he would be willing they would ask Rabbi Kanievsky to be the sandek for the baby, that through his eitzah, came into this world. The rabbi was very happy to perform this mitzvah and the families flew in from across the world to be part of this simcha. The rabbi’s face was shining as he held onto the baby in his shul in Bnei Brak.

Shlomo Alexander Klein had a very big zechus on that day, and now that he just turned three the parents were hoping to bring him to Rabbi Kanievsky during Pesach when his maternal grandparents would be in Israel. It was not to be, but Shlomo’s father, Shaul Klein, was at the funeral among the multitudes. And in his heart he would forever carry a thankfulness for the special bracha and eitzah that the gadol ha’dor had bestowed on him and his family.


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Naomi Klass Mauer is the co-publisher of The Jewish Press.