Miracles at the kever of Rashbi are not a new thing. But this incredible firsthand story from our generation witnessed by Rabbi Tzvi Greenwald is a show of the incredible power of Lag Baomer.
Rabbi Tzvi Greenwald a”h as heard by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
I grew up in Yerushalayim in an observant home. When I was around twenty, the atmosphere in Eretz Yisroel was very tense. No longer did we feel comfortable and safe walking the streets as our Arab neighbors were agitated. They were unhappy with the influx of Jewish refugees from war-torn Europe and were seething with anger about the Balfour Declaration, where England committed itself to establishing a Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisroel.
To try to pacify them, the British who were then governing Eretz Yisroel started refusing Jewish refugees from entering. They placed a blockade and forced the ships to return or to go to him Cyprus.
Knowing that our brothers and sisters were being sent back to an almost certain death, aroused a tremendous feeling of indignation and resentment against the British. So, Jews from all backgrounds united as one to fight this injustice.
Some groups focused on ways to evade the blockade, while others mainly concentrated on fighting the British. When the Arab neighbors began attacking us, I joined one of these Para-military groups to protect the communities and we often had small skirmishes.
As more Jews settled in Eretz Yisroel, many of them who escaped the horrendous brutalities of the war, were determined not to allow it to happen again and joined our division. One such person, Avrohom*, the only survivor from his entire extended family, joined us immediately after being smuggled past the blockade. He learned quickly how to use a rifle and was fearless in combat. In one fierce battle, a bullet hit him near the spinal cord, and he was paralyzed. Since he was our comrade, and especially as he didn’t have anyone else, we would visit him quite often.
One day, around six months later when we came to the hospital, we noticed that he wasn’t his normal self and was subdued or depressed. We asked him what was bothering him and he replied that tonight is Lag Baomer and he wishes he can be in Meron, so he can watch the singing and dancing.
We were going to an operation around there and decided to fulfill this request. We turned to the attending nurse and said that our friend asked us if we could take him outside to get some fresh air on this beautiful day. With your permission, we will stay with him for an hour or two and then bring him back. The nurse was overworked and was happy to have a break, as well as to help the patient enjoy some company, so permission was readily given.
We picked up his bed, carried it down the stairs, and put it down for a few minutes while one of us brought the Jeep over. When we noticed that no one was watching, we swiftly placed him with the bed in the back and began the few-hour drive.
He thanked us profusely and when we apologized for being uncomfortable, he replied with a smile and said, “You forgot that I am paralyzed and have no sense of feeling. I am very comfortable, it is you who are uncomfortable.”
When we arrived in Meron we placed him and the bed where no one would be dancing, but close enough that he could watch it. After helping him eat and leaving some food and drink close to the bed, we informed him that we must arrive at our destination and will
G-d-willing pick him up in the morning.
We took care of what had to be done and returned early before sunrise. When we arrived, we saw the bed but not him. For a moment we panicked, understanding the severity of the situation, and then quickly decided to ask others if they noticed what happened to him.
As we came to a small group of dancers, we were shocked. There was Avrohom in the middle of the circle, dancing with tremendous fervor. While we were relieved and overjoyed, we wanted to know how this miracle happened, so we asked him.
“Yesterday you guys did me the greatest favor. You put yourselves in danger with the law to fulfill my desire. When we arrived in Meron I was full of joy that I can experience the joy of Rabban Shimon bar Yochai.
“But after you left and I was watching others dancing, depression slowly encompassed me. I cried out, ‘Holy tzaddik, the great sage, our master and teacher Rabban Shimon bar Yochai, while I was growing up Lag Baomer was the happiest day in my life. I always was hoping to one day dance by your holy eternal resting place.
“’Then when the war broke out and I witnessed the atrocities happening to my family and our people, I made a vow. If I survive, I will move to Eretz Yisroel and will dance in Meron on Lag Baomer. I arrived in Eretz Yisroel and was counting to when I can fulfill my vow and then I was injured. You kindly brought me here and initially, I was thrilled, but then remembering the vow I began to cry. I am in Meron but I can’t dance.’
“I don’t know how long I was crying for but suddenly I began feeling a sensation in my feet. Originally, I thought it was my wishful thinking and I am hallucinating. But after a few moments, I realized it just may be real, so I decided to try and move my feet. Boruch Hashem I was able to, and then when I stood up, I was surprised that I wasn’t shaky, so I walked around a little bit and then I began to dance.”
May all of our Tefillos be accepted in every aspect.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their Chassidim. He can be contacted at [email protected]