Photo Credit: courtesy, Sivan Rahav Meir
Sivan Rahav Meir

A year ago, at the height of the lockdown, only a few people were allowed to accompany Rav Yeshayahu Haber to his final resting place. Rav Haber was the founder of the Matnat Chaim (Gift of Life) organization and passed away at the age of 55 from the coronavirus. This week, many more people attended the memorial service that marks one year since his death.

Rav Haber is not only responsible for the revolution in kidney donations in Israel and he did not only save the lives of 1,000 kidney recipients. He brought about several other revolutions at the same time:

  • A “you alone can change the world” revolution. Do you have a worthwhile initiative? Do you have a dream? Just get moving and make it happen. Don’t wait for the government, the establishment, or financial backers. Just begin and perhaps, little by little, you will change the world.
  • A caring revolution. Rav Haber discovered the anguish of those seeking a kidney when he found himself in that very situation. After receiving a kidney, he could have just returned to his previous life. Instead, he decided that the solution to his personal problem should be available to the public at large.
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This is greatness. Not to be content with an individual solution that is beneficial only to yourself, but rather to change the accepted way things are done so that all may benefit from your experience.

  • A peer pressure revolution. We talk a lot about negative peer pressure that causes people to be swept up by unhealthy trends and activities since “everyone is doing it.”

But Rav Haber created positive peer pressure, Suddenly, “everyone is donating a kidney” so perhaps you too should get in on the fashion?

This is proof that it’s possible to create a campaign that’s all about giving and selfless dedication. In the community of Eli, in which many kidney donors live, there’s a joke going around about publication of the following announcement:  “A support group is now forming for people with two kidneys.”

  • A Jewish unity revolution. Jewish unity is expressed each time a charedi kidney is transplanted into a secular body or a leftist kidney is transplanted into the body of someone on the right.  Rav Haber explained this phenomenon as follows, “I don’t ask anyone to give a kidney to a stranger, because the recipient is not a stranger. He’s your brother.”

In his memory.

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Sivan Rahav-Meir, a ba’alas teshuvah, is one of the most popular media personalities in Israel. She is a Channel 2 News anchor, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, and the host of a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal. Every day she shares short Torah thoughts to over 100,000 Israelis – both observant and not – via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.