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Wednesday
Aug082018

SHE SAW THE MIRACLE EYE TO EYE

The difficulty in seeing from her right eye brought Mrs. Naomi Blittner of Bnei Brak to the ophthalmic care center at Tel HaShomer Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a malignant growth behind her eye. A medical expert from the United States determined that the only way to stop it from spreading would be to remove the eye and replace it with an artificial one. She was most concerned over the procedure, and a few months later, she made an appointment with a world renowned specialist, who developed a unique approach of freezing the eye and returning it to its place. Shortly before the fateful operation, she went by the Rebbe for dollars and requested that he decree that the illness disappear. When she went in to see the specialist, he looked again at the recent test results and x-rays made at his clinic, and asked why she had come to him…

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

“A tzaddik decrees and G-d fulfills.” This was the first statement I heard from Mrs. Naomi Blittner of Bnei Brak, when I called to hear about the incredible miracle she experienced in 5749 with the blessing of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach.

While Naomi and her family belong to the Seret Vizhnitz Chassidic community, they also have had a tremendous appreciation for the path of Chabad Chassidus and its leader – the Rebbe, many years before this amazing miracle.

This fascinating story, which took place with the Rebbe’s bracha, has been with Naomi for the past thirty years. Whenever she looks, reads, and davens out of her right eye, she recalls how the situation could have been quite different. The details of this story remain with her as if it happened only yesterday.

A VERY UNCLEAR MORNING

“One Thursday morning in mid-5748, I woke up and realized that I couldn’t see out of my right eye. I rubbed my eye, washed it, but nothing seemed to help. My sight, which had been perfectly fine before that summer morning, suddenly began to worsen. Until then, I suffered no problems with my vision except for the fact that I wear glasses. Needless to say, I was very frightened when I realized how seriously weakened my vision had become. It was a terrifying feeling. I was totally unprepared for this, hitting me like a bolt out of the blue.

“During that first day, I spent several hours trying to suppress any unwarranted fears, assuring myself that this was a temporary impairment, one that any good optometrist or ophthalmologist could treat. However, I was still worried over the fact that all I could see from the right side was a black circle that rolled to every corner of my eye. Nevertheless, I wasn’t in any particular rush to get to an eye doctor. I tried to continue my normal routine, but regrettably my vision continued to deteriorate.

“When I started feeling a sharp pain in the left side of my head, I realized that I needed to go to an optician for an examination. When he heard my story, even before he examined me, he gave me a referral to go immediately to the hospital. He surmised that the problem was connected to the retina, and therefore, he was unable to help me.

“It was Friday morning. I told no one in my family about this; they were certain that I was at work. I quickly made my way to the emergency room at Tel HaShomer Hospital. After waiting there for a few hours, I was finally examined by an eye doctor, who advised that I remain overnight for a comprehensive examination.

“Naturally, I didn’t want to stay in the hospital on Shabbos, preferring to spend it with my family. I arranged with the doctor that I would come back on Sunday for further tests.

“During that Shabbos, my eye only got worse. I had difficulty davening as I customarily did, and this merely made it all too clear that this was a far more complicated medical problem than I had originally believed – no temporary impairment.

“On Sunday morning, I came to the ophthalmic care center at Tel HaShomer Hospital, where I met among others with Dr. Avraham Fabian, of blessed memory, a Torah observant eye doctor from Bnei Brak.

THE WORRIED DOCTOR ASKED: “DID YOU COME WITH AN ESCORT?”

“I was sent for a series of tests, and afterwards I began to sense a strange commotion from the doctors around me. More and more physicians came into the examining room, and the test results passed from one to another as they carefully reviewed the findings and discussed them among themselves. This fact only increased my sense of worry. I asked one of the doctors what they had managed to find in the test results and whether they already knew what had happened to my eye. Instead of responding directly to my question, the doctor asked me: ‘Did you come here with an escort?’ When I replied that I hadn’t, the doctors advised that someone from my family should come to the hospital and they would tell us everything.

“As I said before, until that point, I hadn’t told any family members about the seriousness of the situation. I urged the doctors not to be concerned and tell me then and there what the results show. ‘I’m a strong woman and I can deal with any information regarding my health,’ I told them. They agreed. I went into the office of the head doctor, and he informed me that all the x-rays and test results confirmed the likelihood that I was suffering from melanoma (a form of malignant growth), located behind my right eye. The doctor explained to me about the nature of the disease and its severity, asking that I come to the hospital once a week for follow-up examinations.

“I could no longer remain indifferent in the face of such a shattering diagnosis from all members of the eye ward’s medical staff. Although I was extremely concerned, nevertheless, I decided that for the next several weeks, I would not tell my family about the true nature of my ailment. While they did know that I was having problems with my right eye, they knew nothing about the great pain I was suffering from and the alarming diagnosis of the hospital doctors. They didn’t even know that I was coming to the ophthalmic care center at Tel HaShomer each week for follow-up tests. The medical staff primarily wanted to be sure that the tumor would not ch”v spread to the left eye or other limbs of the body.

“A few months later, Dr. Fabian asked that I should be hospitalized for a complete and comprehensive battery of tests. ‘The hospitalization will last at least a week,’ he informed me, and I realized that I had to tell my husband and the rest of the family about the complex medical problem that had been plaguing me all this time.

“In the meantime, my eyesight became progressively worse and the intense pain become unbearable. I experienced a strange phenomenon that repeated itself every few weeks: gradually losing the sight in my right eye only to have it partially restored about two weeks later. The doctors explained to me that there was a build-up of liquid, causing the retina to be detached from the eye, until the liquid could be absorbed and the retina returned to its place. Only then would my vision be partially restored.”

THE WORLD-RENOWNED EXPERT GAVE LITTLE HOPE

“During one of the follow-up meetings, the doctors told me that a prominent ophthalmologist from the United States had come to Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital in Yerushalayim, and they suggested that I consult with him. Dr. Fabian could not express enough words of praise for this professor’s expertise.

“The truth is that I placed considerable faith in his professional ability, anticipating that he might have a more effective suggestion on how to improve my condition.

“On the day of my appointment, I traveled to Yerushalayim, where I was called in the doctor’s office after completing a series of tests and x-rays. This doctor was extremely prominent in his field, and when I saw sitting before me someone not so young, I just assumed that by now he had seen it all before. With a physician’s characteristic restraint, he informed me that he concurs with the opinion of the doctors at Tel HaShomer: melanoma. He then said that the situation must not be allowed to get any worse and recommended immediate treatment.

“How? The only possibility that he could suggest was to remove the afflicted eye and replace it with an artificial one. ‘No one will notice that it isn’t your natural eye,’ he promised me, adding that he had performed numerous operations of this type. He said that I would need to come to the hospital once a year to remove the eye and sterilize the socket to prevent any possible infection.

“I was both naïve and very confused, and I asked him if I would be able to see with this eye. He gave me a compassionate look and answered tersely, ‘Of course not…’ His words ring in my ears to this very day and I remember everything as if it was happening right now. He must have said to himself, ‘What a foolish and bizarre woman.’

“However, I gathered my strength and replied, ‘Even if I can no longer see from this eye, I am not prepared to have it removed. He Who placed the illness within me will also take it away.’ To be quite honest, I was in a state of complete denial over the gravity of the situation. I refused to reconcile myself to the bitter decree that had fallen upon me.

“As I looked at the doctor, I clearly saw that he was astonished to have received such an answer. I am quite certain that in all the years of his professional career, no one had ever responded to him in such a manner. He said that he was giving his recommendation based on his qualified experience, but it was clear to him that I was going to do as I had decided.

“Nevertheless, he did have one request. There was an invited group of forty ophthalmologists due to arrive at Hadassah Ein-Kerem the following week from the United States, and he would appreciate it if they could meet me. My medical condition was somewhat unique and he felt that they could learn something from it. To this I gave my consent.

“I went back to ‘Tel HaShomer’ with this specialist’s diagnosis along with my refusal to undergo the treatment that he recommended.

“As I think back to those days, I recall acacmy feelings of tremendous confusion. I was very concerned. Yet, while there was great fear in my heart, I was filled with faith in the Creator. I read the entire T’hillim each day while standing, and I even had the opportunity to rent an apartment near the remnants of the Beis HaMikdash in order to pray for forty days at the Western Wall. On the one hand, I realized what my situation was; it was impossible not to understand. I was still having difficulty seeing out of my right eye, continuing to suffer from intense pains and occasionally a burning sensation in the eye. On the other hand, I had tremendous emuna.

A LITTLE LIGHT IN THE CORNER OF HER EYE

“A few months later, during one of my visits to see Dr. Fabian at Tel HaShomer, he told me about a world-renowned eye surgeon from Boston. He heard that he has a new surgical approach that does not require permanently removing the eye, rather just freezing the eye and returning it afterwards to its place. Dr. Fabian even recommended that I meet with the editor of the now defunct ‘Davar’ newspaper, who had undergone a similar procedure.

“I realized that I couldn’t push things off any longer. I had a meeting with this editor and I saw while his eye no longer functioned, you couldn’t notice anything wrong. Everything appeared normal, and if I couldn’t notice, then surely those unaware of a problem wouldn’t either.

“He gave me the address of the clinic of this doctor and I prepared a letter for him. I sent him the entire medical file in connection with my eye ailment along with the tests I had done, and I made an appointment to see him. Despite the progress on this front, I still remained unwilling to accept the fact that I needed this kind of surgical procedure that might permanently deprive me of the use of my right eye.

“I remember myself before my flight to Boston, davening each morning to the Creator, with particular kavana on the words ‘May our eyes behold Your return’ in the Shmoneh Esrei, alongside a flood of tears and my fervent prayer that I will be able to escort my youngest daughter to her wedding chuppa and see it with my own two eyes.”

I ASKED FOR A PROMISE

“A month before my scheduled appointment with the Boston specialist, I boarded a flight for New York together with my sister with plans to stay at the home of a close friend living in Borough Park.

“We arrived on a Thursday. I was very weak, literally on the verge of fainting. My emotional state was not good during those days with the constant fear and pressure I was enduring. That Shabbos, I recuperated a little and regained my strength, and I asked my close friend to take us the next day to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s headquarters in Crown Heights. Even before leaving Eretz Yisroel, I promised myself that I wouldn’t go through any medical procedure without first receiving a ‘Birkas HaDerech’ from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, even though our family were not Lubavitcher chassidim.

“One of my best friends is Rebbetzin Leah Shapira, a Chabad woman living in Kiryat Herzog with her husband, Rabbi Shapira. I participated regularly in her Tanya classes, and in her merit I became close to Chabad. I heard many stories from her about the greatness of the Rebbe.

“On Sunday morning, the three of us made our way to 770. My heart was engulfed with anticipation.

“As we arrived at the courtyard of the Rebbe’s beis midrash, I could see a huge line going around the block. People stood in line for many long hours as the rays of the blazing sun beat down upon their heads, all in order to have a few precious seconds in the Rebbe’s presence. I was astonished by the sight. As the line moved forward and we came into the entrance hall where the Rebbe was standing, I noticed a woman standing near the Rebbe, moving the women along quickly in order not to waste the Rebbe’s valuable time.

“My sister went over to her and managed to convince her to give me the necessary time when my turn came, and so it was.

“When my turn did come, I found myself standing before the Rebbe, telling him briefly about what had happened to me over the past few months and the purpose of my coming to the United States. At a certain point, I dared to look straight into the Rebbe’s piercing blue eyes and felt that I was losing my balance. It seemed as if my very essence was laid before him, and to this day, whenever I look at the Rebbe’s picture, the same powerful feelings of that moment come back to me. I finished my words with the saying I had been taught as a child, ‘A tzaddik decrees and G-d fulfills’, and I asked the Rebbe to decree that the problem would simply disappear.

“The Rebbe looked at me with a compassionate smile. Unwilling to settle for a smile, I got up my nerve and asked the Rebbe to make me a promise. The Rebbe gave me another dollar and blessed me with a ‘refua shleima.’ I left the Rebbe’s presence an entirely different woman. I can’t give you a rational explanation, but I felt that the Rebbe was again arousing my faith and confidence.

A MOMENT BEFORE THE TREATMENT…

“A few days later, I flew from New York to Boston. Although my appointment with the specialist was to be in just two weeks, since I had heard in the meantime about another prominent eye specialist, I decided to go and see him as well and receive his opinion.

“I went through the checking in process and was examined by him, but in the end, the efforts had been wasted. The doctor informed me that while he was an expert in ophthalmology, the professor from Boston was the most reputable authority on my specific ailment, and therefore, he would prefer not to give a diagnosis.

“We went back to Borough Park, and on the next two Sundays, I was privileged to pass by the Rebbe for dollars and twice receive his blessing for a ‘complete recovery.’

“During this entire time, there was no change in my eyesight. While the pains had lessened, I still saw from my right eye only with much difficulty. My appointment with the specialist was scheduled for a Monday. It was clear to me that I was going in for a surgical procedure to freeze my eye and then return it to its place. I stood with my sister at the entrance to the doctor’s clinic and we poured out our souls by reciting chapters of T’hillim. At one point, I was so confused that my sister noticed me using my ailing right eye to read. When she brought this to my attention, the two of us broke into unnatural sobs.

“Meanwhile, I was called in to the nurse, who did a few routine tests on me before I went to see the specialist. When I finished the tests, I waited to be called in to the doctor’s office. When we went in, the doctor looked at me and then back at the results of the recent x-rays I had done at his clinic. ‘Why have you come to me?’ he asked. It took me a few seconds to digest the meaning of his question. ‘What do you mean? Didn’t you look through the pile of documents I sent you?’ I asked in reply. He shrugged his shoulders, furrowed his brow, and then spent the next several minutes examining the file we had brought.

“Suddenly, he raised his head from the pages on his desk and said: ‘It’s a good thing that you didn’t listen to those doctors. You must not have any operation to remove your eye. Just a drop of blood from your eye in the direction of the rest of your body would have been enough to cause the tumor to spread. I recommend that you leave things as they are. While you won’t be able to see from your right eye as you once did, your sight will eventually improve,’ he promised.

“As I listened to his words, I had to pinch myself to make certain that I wasn’t dreaming. I left the doctor’s office, shaking with excitement. The two of us sat together in the clinic’s waiting area for several minutes as we tried to internalize the doctor’s recommendations. It was simply beyond belief.

“I know all too well that it was the Rebbe’s bracha that produced this unexpected turnaround. The doctor’s prognosis proved most accurate: my sight improved considerably with the passage of time. Nearly thirty years have passed since then, and while my sight never completely returned as it was before, the fact is that I can see out of my right eye and even read small texts such as Rashi’s commentary on the Torah…”

THE REBBE’S MIRACLE LEFT EVERYONE IN SHOCK

Mrs. Naomi Blittner finished her moving and amazing story as both her eyes filled with tears of joy. “Not a day goes by that I don’t thank G-d for this amazing miracle. In His Infinite Kindness, He sent into this world His faithful messenger, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose bracha can create wonders beyond nature.

“I remember the shock that gripped me and my family. When I called to tell my husband about the incredible turn of events, he refused to believe me. He was certain that I had lost my mind. ‘Stop frightening yourself and letting your imagination run wild,’ he told me over the phone. It took some time for him and the rest of the family to realize that an amazing miracle had occurred.

“When I returned to Eretz Yisroel, I paid a call to Dr. Fabian’s office at Tel HaShomer. I showed him the recommendations of the specialist from Boston, and he reacted with total shock.”

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