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Wednesday
Sep062017

A HARSH REALITY AND A CALMING DREAM

The doctors said that she would give birth to a boy. The Rebbe said in a dreama girl. The doctors declared that the baby would have Down Syndrome. In a dream, the Rebbe rejected this out of handThis is the moving story of Mrs. Etti Bitton from Tzfas, who experienced a period of tremendous tension due to the doctorswarnings until she merited to have a miraculous dream, which was fulfilled in every detail.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

 “According to all the examinations we have made, the diagnosis is clear: The child you are carrying will be born with Down Syndrome.” This was the firm and unqualified opinion of the gynecologist who had accompanied Mrs. Etti Bitton, a teacher with the Chabad kindergarten network in Tzfas, during her third pregnancy.

As Mrs. Bitton recalls those days from twenty-four years ago, her voice filled with emotion. She continues to live with the events of her exciting story to this very day.

The diagnosis of the medical staff at Tzfas’ Rebecca Sieff Hospital was definite and clear-cut: the pregnancy must be terminated. At the time, Mrs. Bitton was a young woman and she was inclined to accept their conclusions. However, when she sought the advice of her older brothers, Rabbis Yaakov and Avraham Ochanuna, she received an emphatic rejection of the doctors’ position. For several days, she went around in a state of confusion and agitation. However, all this came to an end at the moment that she was privileged to receive the Rebbe’s bracha.

“A SOUL WAITING TO DESCEND INTO THIS WORLD”

“This was my third pregnancy,” said Mrs. Etti Bitton as she began her story. “At first, everything appeared to be fine. All the test results were in order and the various fetal measurements were well within the normal parameters. At a certain stage, it was suggested that I undergo a certain examination. However, the results showed that things were not as they should be. When I asked the doctor about the test, he was non-committal in his reply. He said that it could indicate that the fetus is suffering from Down Syndrome, and subsequently he sent me for a more in-depth examination.

“In my heart, I hoped and prayed that he would be proven wrong. Unfortunately, the second series of tests confirmed the first.

“‘You and your husband, together with the rest of your family, are going to have to think long and hard about whether you can or want to raise such a child,’ the doctor told me candidly. According to him, time was running against us, and since the pregnancy was still in its initial stages, it was not too late to terminate it r”l. I left the doctor’s office in a state of bewilderment and confusion. I was a young woman and the dilemma facing me was far more than I could bear. I was simply beside myself. I told my husband what the doctor had said, and the two of us felt totally helpless.

“I eventually decided to consult with my brother, Rabbi Yaakov. In all matters connected with Torah and mitzvos, I would ask him and seek his advice and guidance. After I told him about the doctors’ diagnosis, I asked him as my eyes welled with tears, ‘What should I do? Should I continue the pregnancy or follow their advice and terminate it?’ He advised that we go together to speak with our older brother, Rabbi Avraham, who served for many years as an army chaplain with the Israel Defense Forces. After speaking with Avraham, he suggested that the three of us turn to the Rebbe’s shliach, the chief rabbi of Tzfas, Rabbi Levi Bistritzky, of blessed memory.

“I remember the meeting with Rabbi Bistritzky a”h as if it was only yesterday. As we came in, the rav was busy working on one of his s’farim, yet he made the time to welcome us. After he heard me out, he ruled unequivocally that I should not even consider following the doctors’ advice. He shared several stories with me from Chabad families who raised children with various genetic disorders, taking the task upon themselves as a form of shlichus in spite of the difficulties.

“As the meeting ended, the rav promised that he would write to the Rebbe for us and ask for his holy blessing. At the same time, he asked permission from those Chabad families raising children with similar ailments to let us speak with them as a means of preparing us for the challenges we were certain to face. I will never forget the statement Rabbi Bistritzky made just before we left: ‘This is also a soul waiting to descend and which must descend into this world. What right do you have to prevent that?’ My husband, Daniel, was stronger than me and he was filled with faith and confidence. However, as I left the rav’s office, I couldn’t stop crying. My husband bolstered my spirits and promised that he would help in raising the child. My brothers too assured us that they would be at our side, yet it still wasn’t easy for me.

“The meeting with Rabbi Bistritzky took place on a Thursday. The following night, after the Shabbos evening meal, we went to sleep – and I had a very shocking dream. In my dream, I saw my brother Yaakov suggesting that I join him on a trip to visit the Rebbe’s court in New York. As we approached the Rebbe’s room, my brother prepared me on how I’m supposed to speak to the Rebbe. I recall this now and my body trembles. He explained to me that you speak to the Rebbe gently and indirectly: The Rebbe already knows who’s standing before him and what that person is requesting.

“As it happened, when our turn came to go before the Rebbe, I moved toward the door, but I couldn’t walk in. A brilliant light came forth from the room. I stood in my place as if I had been nailed there. My brother urged me to go inside, but I couldn’t move. Finally, he had to push me through the door. As I was standing before the Rebbe, I was so awestruck that I wasn’t able to open my mouth. The Rebbe began to speak, giving me a bracha for good news and an easy and normal birth. He then informed me that contrary to what the doctors thought, I should expect the birth of a daughter, not a son, and she would be completely healthy without any medical problems.

“I woke up from the dream in the middle of the night and burst into tears. My husband then woke up as well, and he tried to calm me down. He pleaded with me to accept and reconcile myself to the situation. He thought that I had woken up deeply disturbed over the current state of affairs, but I was the one who saw the Rebbe so clearly. I could hardly open my mouth and it was only after several long minutes that I managed to relax. After I washed my hands, I told my husband the amazing dream.

“From that moment on, something incredible happened – all of my fears disappeared and I became completely calm. The dream was so vivid that it was clear to me that the doctors were making a mistake. Yet, there were still many people around me who tried to sow the seeds of pessimism. They were worried that I was climbing a tree of faith that was far too high for me and I was liable to face serious disappointment when the moment of truth came. However, the Rebbe’s words continued to reverberate in my head, and it was clear to me that the doctors’ predictions would not come to pass.”

THE MIRACULOUS NEWS: IT’S A GIRL!

It seems that the events from those days continue to overwhelm Mrs. Bitton, as she continued her story in a voice cracking from emotion.

“On the 28th of Iyar 5753, the time had arrived for the birth and I was quickly brought to the maternity ward. At first, there were moments when it appeared that there might be some complications with the birth. My brother was at the hospital with us (see postscript), and he quickly sent a fax to the Rebbe. As it turned out, from that very moment, everything went much easier and we were blessed with the miraculous arrival of a totally healthy baby girl.

“I held my new daughter in my arms and was overcome with joy. I reprimanded the doctors, telling them that if I had followed their instructions, this joy would have ch”v been denied to me. ‘Who knows how many women have listened to your advice, and as a result were prevented from having a healthy baby boy or girl in body and spirit?’ I asked them indignantly.

“In fact, while the doctors were constantly updating me that I should expect to have a boy, I was very happy because I was planning to name the baby after my father, who had passed away a few months earlier. Now, after giving birth to a girl, we gave her the name ‘Aviha.’

“Our amazing story was quickly publicized throughout the Holy City of Tzfas, and everyone was astounded by the incredible miracle that took place with the Rebbe’s bracha. Rabbi Bistritzky, who would always participate in our family simchas, came every time looking for little Aviha. He would always pick her up and remind us of the tremendous power of emuna and the strength of the Rebbe’s bracha.”

* * *

Rabbi Yaakov Ochanuna adds the following postscript:

“A few days before the birth, the doctors detected that the fetus might be at risk and they ordered my sister to be hospitalized immediately. It should be noted that all of her children had unavoidably been born via C-section, and this would be no exception. After maintaining close observation for forty-eight hours and the child’s condition growing more dangerous, the doctors informed us that an operation would take place within the next few hours. I told them that since the Rebbe had told my sister in a dream that she would have an easy birth, there was no need to rush…

“A few hours later after an ultrasound examination, the doctors informed us that the operation would take place immediately, as both mother and child were in distress. My sister and brother-in-law were very concerned, but when they called me, I assured them, ‘There’s no reason for alarm, the Rebbe said that there would be an easy birth…’

“It wasn’t all that simple for me to take such a heavy responsibility upon myself. Everyone was under tremendous pressure, including the medical staff. Yet, just half an hour later, en route to the operation room, the natural and easy birth took place, just as the Rebbe had promised…”

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