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A New Friend

“Mazel tov! Mazel tov!” came the cry in the delivery room. The young couple, Moshe and Tirtza Weiss*, had just been blessed with a set of twins. However, their joy was quickly marred by some sobering news. One of the newborns was ill - gravely ill. Within a few days the young parents had already made the rounds of a number of expert doctors, but none of them had encouraging words. Unanimously they agreed that the prognosis for this baby was bleak.

Moshe visited his family's Rebbe, told him of his problem and asked for a blessing. The Rebbe listened carefully to the father's report and then said candidly, “In this situation, only the Lubavitcher Rebbe can help you. Write him a letter and ask for his blessing.”

Moshe quickly followed his Rebbe's advice and wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Within a few days he received a response, which included a blessing as well as the instruction to turn to an expert doctor who was a friend.

The parents sat together and tried to think of which doctor they knew who could be classified as “a doctor, a friend.” They could not think of anyone who met the definition. The doctors they were acquainted with were specialists in entirely different fields, which had no relevance to their baby's condition.

In the meantime, though, time was passing with no sign of improvement in the baby's condition. In fact, he steadily deteriorated, while his parents continued their frantic search for “an expert doctor who was a friend.” They consulted with various friends and relatives, hoping to at least find a doctor who was a friend of a friend - but they still could not find anyone who fit the bill.

One morning, a good friend approached Moshe. “Listen, I heard of a neonatologist in Tel Aviv who's an expert in your son's condition. If you haven't yet found a doctor who's a friend - why not do the next best thing, and see an expert doctor.”

The proposal made sense to Moshe - after all, he had no other options - and he made an appointment with the doctor in Tel Aviv.

In the doctor's waiting room, as a chassidic Jew, Moshe felt quite conspicuous among the other patients. When his turn came, Moshe picked up his baby and went into the doctor's examining room. Upon seeing Moshe, the doctor stood up and, to Moshe's surprise, greeted him with a warm hug, like a long-lost friend.

“Welcome! And what brings you here today?”

Moshe could not remember ever having met this doctor before. What was the meaning of the exuberant greeting? The doctor, as though not realizing his consternation, continued to relate to Moshe with extreme friendliness. He reviewed the baby's medical files and then proceeded to perform his own examination.

After the doctor completed his assessment, he said, “The baby's condition is quite severe, unfortunately. However, I will admit him to the hospital under my personal supervision, and I am confident that he will recover.”

Moshe was deeply puzzled by the doctor's friendly attitude towards him. For many hours he wracked his brain, trying to think where he had seen the doctor before. His mind came up blank.

The doctor from Tel Aviv kept his promise and personally treated the baby. His outstanding reputation as a physician proved itself, and within a short time the baby was released from the hospital, completely recovered.

During the time of his son's hospitalization, Moshe felt that he had developed a genuine bond of friendship with the doctor. Finally he permitted himself to ask the doctor directly: “The first time I came to see you, you greeted me like an old friend. I am trying to remember where we might have met before, but I can't think of anything. How did you know who I was?”

The doctor seemed slightly embarrassed. “I will tell you the truth. I also cannot remember ever meeting you before, and I have no logical explanation for how I acted at our first meeting. When you entered my office, I was startled by the site of a Chassidic Jew such as yourself - it was not a sight that I expected to see. I don't know exactly what came over me - for some reason I felt compelled to greet you the way I did.”

To Moshe, the mystery suddenly was solved. He was sure that the doctor's extraordinary patience and attentiveness towards him was the result of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's blessing. The Rebbe saw that the parents had done all in their power to find an expert doctor who was a friend, and could only find an expert who was not a friend. Somehow this doctor who was a stranger to them - became a friend.

*A pseudonym



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