The hospital halls were subdued and serene. Shabbos had
mastered the hustle and flurry of the week. Shoshi approached
the emergency desk with her groaning husband. The nurse,
without glancing up from the papers, pointed them to the
plastic, orange chairs that lined the wall. Tamar, the nurse
on duty, rushed from patient to patient, checking,
questioning, measuring. She was kind to all, unruffled and
collected, as her feet tripped across the tiled, sterile
The peaceful scene was frightened away when the glass door
was flung open with a whoosh. Father, Mother and a five-year-
old boy pushed their way into the waiting area. A white towel
was wrapped around the young boy's hand. The mother untied
Shoshi's blood rushed frantically through her body.
A piece of flesh was cut off from the top of one finger. The
blood had dried up and now the wound lay exposed and
"When did this happen?" Tamar demanded, as she held the
unfortunate hand in her own.
"In the morning," the mother replied.
Tamar's face grew crimson. "What? It is three o'clock now.
Why did you wait this long to bring your son in?"
The mother shrugged. How could she explain that until they
were able to farm out their large, though young family and
until the Hatzolah members were consulted . . . they couldn't
get to the hospital faster.
A specialist was called down. He examined the finger and the
lifeless flesh that the father had brought along.
"I'll need to sew two stitches. One on each side. Then maybe
the finger will heal or maybe it won't."
The mother nodded, the worry evident in her eyes. The small
boy looked petrified. The father stiffened up.
"Sew?" he asked. "On Shabbos?"
The doctor nodded.
"We'll need to ask a Rabbi if it's allowed."
Tamar elbowed her way into the cluster of people. "Are you
out of your mind?" she yelled. "You waited so long already.
Just do whatever the doctor says. Of course the
halochoh allows it."
The father didn't answer, but went to search for the Rabbi of
The Rabbi listened carefully to the question. He confirmed a
few details with the doctor. "It's not allowed," he ruled.
Tamar raised her voice once more. "And you're going to listen
to that man?"
The father nodded. The mother nodded. The frightened boy
looked from one to the other.
The Rabbi explained that the wound was already dry. The
doctor wasn't certain that the flesh would heal. Therefore,
since the finger wasn't bleeding anymore and it wasn't life-
threatening, the cut wasn't allowed to be sewn on Shabbos.
"Are you people mad?" The voice belonged to Tamar again.
"There is a chance that the finger will heal if the wound is
sewn. How can you throw away this chance?"
The father and mother both shook their heads.
This irked Tamar to an extreme. She flung a roll of dressing
on the cluttered desk and stormed out of the hospital.
The waiting crowd overheard her muttering:
"I don't understand these religious Jews. Why do they have to
listen to those Laws?" The people in the room all watched
Tamar's retreating form. It was no use explaining at the
moment because she was so angry and upset. Shoshi met her
husband's eyes and they both shrugged. They had a Torah and
they listened to it. Tamar had a Torah too . . . She hadn't
yet learned to appreciate it.
Five minutes hadn't passed before the glass door was swung
open once more. A woman stood by the threshold, her finger
wrapped in a white gauze. Every eye turned to stare. It was
Shoshi was the first to find her voice.
"What happened, Tamar?"
Tamar, still annoyed and livid, though now a touch confused
as well, related that she had hailed a taxi as soon as she
had stormed out of the hospital. As she banged the door shut,
her finger got stuck in the door. She was back now to have
her finger treated.
Everybody now focused their glance on the offending finger.
Then, like a magnet, the eyes were drawn to the wounded
finger on the little boy. Same hand, same finger.
The story doesn't end here.
Shoshi related the above to a friend the following week.
"Wow, it's strange that you're telling me this story now. I'm
just coming from this family's house. Their name is
——- —— ."
"So tell me," Shoshi asked. "Did they stitch the finger after
"They sure did."
"It healed beautifully, B"H."
"Wow," Shoshi commented in awe. "When one keeps Shabbos,
Shabbos keeps them."
Her friend nodded and added, "I know this family very well.
They are very meticulous about keeping every mitzvah.
They also are very, very poor. So when I have extra money or
ma'aser money, I put it aside and give it to them.
Last week, somebody gave me three hundred dollars to give to
tzedokoh. Just now I came back from that family to
give them the money.
"Mrs. M. trembled when I handed her the cash. She sat me down
with a cup of tea and told me the same story you just did.
She also said,
"`We don't have medical insurance. The hospital billed us
1200 shekel for the visit and the stitches. I didn't know
where I would find this kind of money to pay them. And now
you come with the exact amount!'"
Shoshi was amazed once more.
"And to think that from all the people that I met, I should
relate the story to you!"