Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Tishrei 5760 - September 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
The Asher Yotzar Miracles - Part II
by Sheina Geffen

The first part of this series emphasized the importance of reciting the Asher Yotzar blessing with full concentration, standing stock-still for the duration of the twenty seconds it takes each time. Not very much time to devote to thanking Hashem for such a vital process that keeps us healthy. All told, only two minutes a day, well invested in keeping a person healthy.

Our second story involves one that my husband and I heard first hand, the names of which have been changed to maintain privacy.

"We're having two guests for Shabbos," I told my husband, a Rosh Yeshiva in Ohr Somayach. "A man knocked on the door today, introduced himself as a former talmid, said he was here on business and asked if he and his seven-year-old son could come for a Shabbos meal."

They came, two very special guests, one more special than the other. Young Chaim, you see, is a blind, formerly autistic child. The reader makes a double-take at the word `formerly.' No mistake. Shimon tells the story:

Chaim came into the world in a small hospital in the north of Israel which was not fully equipped to deal with a premature baby. He was born blind and at the age of six, was still unable to speak or control his bodily functions.

Other, normal, children were born to the family, which eventually relocated to a city with a strong Torah community in America, where the father continued to be involved in chinuch and business. Time came to enroll the boy in a school, as law requires, but the only institution in this city capable of receiving Chaim, who was tested and officially diagnosed as autistic, was an inner-city special public school kindergarten. Shimon had no choice, but was deeply pained at the prospect.

One night, Shimon woke up and found his face drenched with tears. Not a generally emotional person, he awoke to a sense of extreme despair for the future of his son, and continued to weep until morning, as he must have wept in his sleep.

He went off to shul feeling very depressed, still in the throes of the crying jag, unable to cast off his desperation. Where was the key that would unlock the sealed world of his firstborn? he asked himself. As he washed his hands before prayer, his eyes lit upon a large Asher Yotzar poster prominently displayed by the sink. And an idea struck him, like a bolt of lightning -- he would later say. It was sheer divine inspiration.

He looked up the address at the bottom of the poster and immediately obtained three hundred such posters, for which he insisted on paying. That day -- and it took almost all day -- he distributed them throughout the city: in shuls, schools -- for boys and for girls -- in all public Jewish institutions. And he went home with a sense of relief and accomplishment.

Dear Readers: I heard this from Shimon's very mouth at our own Shabbos table!

The following morning, Chaim awoke and went to the bathroom, for the very first time, all by himself. And ever after, he has tended to his sanitary needs, all by himself. But these apertures were not the only ones that his father's prayers and deeds had opened.

Chaim began to TALK, that very day! Not began -- he talked, like a six-year-old. Within a very short time, he was able to daven, say all the blessings, even the entire bircas hamozon, from memory! We heard Chaim sing a medley of zemiros, correctly from memory, at our own Shabbos table in the most angelic voice you have ever heard.

"Chaim is very musical. He plays two instruments," his father told us proudly. In fact, after his `awakening', almost all of his `autistic' mannerisms disappeared and his high I.Q. found its expression in rapid learning. Within a span of a single year, Chaim proved himself to be a very gifted, highly intelligent child!

Shimon's pain was now greater than ever. His son, having been diagnosed by the Board of Education as autistic, would have to remain in the public school. It was a lifetime label. According to them, autism was a congenital condition from which one did not ever recover.

How were we privileged with a visit from this father-and-son? It was at this point that Shimon decided to come to Eretz Yisroel, where a world-recognized authority on mental handicaps in children now lived, having retired and made aliya. A testing by this expert together with his recommendation would carry much weight back in Shimon's home city.

Chaim was brought before the expert, who did not need more than a few moments to declare, "This child is as autistic as I am!"

The miracle of Asher Yotzar!

To be continued...


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