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Friday, August 12, 2022 - 15 Av 5782
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Friday, 12 August 2022
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To See Again
by Rabbi Shneur Kupchik, Delhi, India
It was before Pesach when a nice couple from Israel came to our Chabad House. During a quiet moment we sat down with them and they said that after 25 years of making Pesach at home with their family, they decided to do something different and spend the holiday touring India. They had been planning this five-week trip for a long time.

After a few days which they spent with us in Delhi, they traveled on to Rishikesh and planned on going north from there. But G-d had other plans for them.

One night I got a phone call from them. The husband suddenly experienced trouble with his vision and asked me whether there were good hospitals in Delhi. From the tone of his question I did not realize the seriousness of his situation. I advised them to complete their stay in Rishikesh as they had planned and on their way to Dharamsala to pass through Delhi for a checkup.

In the morning I got another phone call from him. They had cut short their itinerary and were in a taxi on their way to Delhi. The situation was more serious that I had thought.

An Israeli living in Delhi for many years referred us to a top eye surgeon. He saw a hole in the retina and referred the man to an even bigger expert. The third doctor thoroughly examined him and said he needed a very urgent operation. It was a matter of hours or the man could lose his sight.

I began checking out the quickest flights to Israel while at the same time weighing the possibility of eye surgery in India. It was a real dilemma. It was beyond me to make a decision. It was up to them.

While I was checking out the options (which is part of the work of a Chabad representative in places like this) I received a text from someone in Israel. His mother had cancer and had already failed chemotherapy twice. The only hope was a medication that cost 30,000 shekels in Israel, but was available in India for only $200. The man implored me to get the medication and find a way to get it to Israel.

The Baal Shem Tov says that a soul descends to this world for 70-80 years just to do a favor for another Jew. I figured I would contact the couple who were looking for an urgent eye operation and were considering returning to Israel immediately and sending the medicine with them. Maybe, in this way, I could console them that their trip here wasn’t for nothing.

The race against time began. I found them a flight at 12:30 a.m. I also contacted a pharmacist I know. Yes, he was familiar with the medication, it was very expensive and not on the shelves of ordinary pharmacies but he could get it for me by 10:30. Oy! Too late. The couple wouldn’t be able to take the medicine.

In the meantime, the couple was still unsure about whether to fly to Israel given the husband’s condition. There were good surgeons in India but they were hard to find. In Israel it was easier to find qualified experts. On the other hand, time was working against him. Every minute was critical and the flight itself could prove harmful.

I was unsure how to advise them. I did not want to take responsibility for a complicated operation here in India and yet, flying did not sound like a good idea either. I consulted with doctors on their behalf and I still did not feel confident telling them what to do.

I decided to ask the Rebbe. I chose volume 8 of the Rebbe’s published letters and the letter on the page I opened to said:

I just received your letter in which you write that you made an appointment for a [] operation for the coming Friday… In addition to the telegram you sent me, I double my blessings that the operation should be in a good and successful time…

In the next line appears the saying that I had planned on telling them:

The saying of the Baal Shem Tov is known that a soul descends to a body for 70-80 years in order to do even one favor for a Jew whether materially or spiritually.

The Rebbe gave his blessing for the operation, great. Now our only challenge was getting the medication on time. I tried to pressure the pharmacist. He told me that at that moment he was racing on his motorcycle to get the medicine and was doing the best he could.

In the meantime, the couple told me that they decided to get another medical opinion in India. They would pass on the 12:30 flight. The next flight was leaving at 4:30. Fantastic. I would be able to give them the expensive medicine before they left.

Just two hours after receiving the text from Israel, I got the medication. A truly impressive record time. I texted the guy back very happily, “I have the medication.” He responded even more happily, “I really don’t know how to thank you. Thanks again. Please let me know when you’re sending it.”

Now the couple had an important assignment. They just had to buy their tickets, fly, and the medicine would be on its way to Israel to the poor woman I did not know who so badly needed it.

The couple landed safely in Israel. They arrived home, exhausted and tense, and within a short time he was in the operating room.

I updated the Rebbe about the results of the surgery. The letter I opened to was incredible. “I was informed about his health and then also about the results of the eye operation which, thank G-d, was successful. May Hashem provide that his health continue to improve and may he be able to add in exertion in Torah and divine service, for a healthy and whole body is from the ways of Hashem.”

Since the operation, he has been in a long recovery and, thank G-d, his vision is improving daily.


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