The incredible story of how my son’s broken tooth was saved really starts the day before it broke.
On Tuesday I had to be at a couple of places in downtown Jerusalem. It didn’t make sense for me to go home in between errands. My older daughters would not be around to babysit the younger kids, so I made arrangements for them to spend the afternoon with their friends. My son Akiva’s best friend would be at his English class, so he opted to go to a different friend, Yaakov, instead. The two boys had a wonderful time together.
Wednesday moved like any other Wednesday. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, I took note that the house would be quiet for another half hour, so I could finally get some work done. That’s when the phone rang.
“Hello, G’veret Rotman,” my son’s rebbe said. “Akiva fell and it looks like he broke his tooth. Please come right away.” Forgetting all previously formed plans, I scurried over to the cheder. By then, the hysterical sobbing I had heard through the telephone wires had calmed down and I was met by a red-faced boy encircled by various staff members. The menahel introduced me to a young rebbe, Rabbi Levine, who was also a medic. The young rebbe gave me instructions on how to care for my son and what to do about his broken tooth.
On the way home, I picked up a few frozen treats as instructed to help bring down the swelling. As Akiva was getting settled, his friend Yaakov called to see how Akiva was feeling and asked if he could come to play. Apparently he and Akiva had enjoyed each other’s companionship so much the day before, they wanted to spend time together again. Akiva agreed and then handed me the phone, saying that Yaakov’s Mommy wanted to speak to me.
“Risa,” Sarah said, “I hear Akiva broke his tooth. The same thing happened to my older son, Tzvi. I went to the best pediatric dentist and he sent me to a specialist. The whole tooth had shattered, but Baruch Hashem, the specialist was able to save the root. Here, I want to give you his number.”
I called the dentist Sarah recommended, Dr. Abvir. He answered the phone himself. Maybe he really finished for the day, I thought. I explained what had happened. He asked me how long it would take to get to him. I told him honestly, “I have no idea. Traffic getting out of my neighborhood at this hour is impossible.” Then the dentist told me we must find the piece of tooth that had broken off. “But I am at home,” I tried to explain, “and the tooth broke in school.” He insisted I try to find the missing piece of tooth.
I called my son’s rebbe. No answer. He had finished for the day. I called Rabbi Levine, the medic. No answer. I called the secretary. Finally, someone answered. I quickly explained what had occurred. The person on the other end seemed to know about the incident. He spoke to someone and then told me to call Rabbi Levine, telling me that this time he would answer the phone.
“Hello,” I said, “I just spoke to a dentist, and he said it is very important that we find the missing piece of tooth.” Rabbi Levine said he would try to help find it, but asked me where it might be so he would know where to look. I had asked Akiva that question a few minutes earlier after speaking to the dentist, but he had been too confused to tell me clearly. When I turned around to ask Akiva again, I spied his friend Yaakov standing in the room holding a toy.
“Yaakov, did you see where the accident happened?” I asked hopefully. Yaakov, being a particularly sharp kid, answered me right away. “Yes, it was just outside the door of our classroom near the Grade 3 classroom next door.” Apparently, Akiva and another boy had innocently bumped into each other. My skinny son had ended up underneath the other boy, banging his face on the floor.
Rabbi Levine sent some boys to go look. Five minutes later, I received a phone call. “We found the tooth!” he told me. I called the dentist back with the good news. “Come to my office tomorrow at 8 a.m.,” he instructed. “Put the tooth in a plastic bag with a drop of water.”
The next day, while checking Akiva’s tooth, the dentist showed me that the soft tissue was exposed. Had we waited a day or two longer, the tooth would have died completely. One of the biggest surprises of the event was Akiva’s incredible ability to sit quietly the entire hour and a half while undergoing a root canal and bonding. Anyone who had witnessed this kid’s screams of terror whenever he was being seen by a regular dentist would understand how unbelievable this was.
To end off this incredible episode showing Hashem’s open hand at every step, I wanted to reward Akiva for his amazing behavior. I offered to buy him a treat as we walked over to the Jerusalem light rail on our way home. Because I had just walked by this way the day before for my own dental appointment, I knew there was a toy store just near the train. Within a short while, we left the store with a satisfied little boy and a relieved mother, who was so very appreciative for all the blessings she had received along the way.