The Gemara (Nedarim 40a) teaches that visiting the sick can literally restore them to life. But it’s not often that the result of this mitzvah is as apparent as it was recently to Rabbi Getzy Rubashkin of Miami, Florida.
“My wife Chana and I have been directing Chabad of West Kendall & The Falls in Florida since last December, and we’ve gotten to know many people,” said the 26-year-old father of two. “One of our friends is a woman named Ellen. During Sukkos, she was hospitalized with chest pains. It turns out that her lungs were full of blood clots. She was hesitant to go through a procedure to address them, but her mother finally convinced her by phone that she had to do it.
“Right then and there, apparently, her lips started to turn blue, and she was rushed to the intensive-care unit. Thank G‑d, there was a specialized team of interventional radiologists there at the time, and they were able to perform the procedure she needed right away. We were out of town, but I made a mental note to visit her as soon as I returned.”
By the time the Rubashkins came home, the rabbi learned that Ellen was back at her house and recuperating. “It was close to Shabbat, but I asked Edward Hollander , a mutual friend, if he would like to go with me to visit Ellen at home,” he went on to explain. “We made plans to meet at my place and drive over to Ellen’s.
“By the time Ed came over, it was even closer to Shabbat and I had a few things to do, so I asked him if he would go alone. He told me that he preferred to go with me and offered to wait while I did what I needed to do.”
Fifteen minutes later, they were on their way. As they pulled up at Ellen’s home, they saw a UPS truck parking in front of the house. Happy to do a favor, Ed accepted the package, which was for Ellen, and brought it inside.
“We sat down and talked about how wonderful she looked, and we all marveled at her miraculous return to health and what Divine providence it was that the team of specialists were there just when she needed them,” the rabbi recalled. “After a few minutes, Ed offered to open Ellen’s package, which contained an oximeter ordered the night before by one of her sons. Curious to see it in action, Ed popped in the batteries, and she put it on. He was shocked to see that her heart rate was soaring to over 200 bpm [beats per minute]-more than double normal rate.
Amazing Series of Events
“At first, he thought the device must be defective,” he continued, “since Ellen had been looking so great, but then Ed tried it on himself and on me, and it showed a normal heart rate for both of us. Ed then put the meter on back on Ellen again, and it showed the high heart rate.”
With minutes to spare, Ed called 911, despite Ellen’s request not to do so, preferring just to call her doctor or the hospital. Because of Ed’s prior experiences in the field, he knew it was a life-threatening situation.
By the time the ambulance arrived, Ellen’s situation had deteriorated to the point that it was difficult for the rescue squad to attach an IV to her. It took the paramedics nearly 15 minutes to stabilize her before rushing her to the hospital.
Reflecting on the drama of that day, the rabbi pointed out the amazing series of events that literally saved Ellen’s life.
“Had we come a few minutes earlier, we may have never sensed anything wrong, and a few minutes later, it may have been too late,” he noted. “Had we come even a minute or two before or after the arrival of the UPS truck, we would have never brought in the package, and never thought to open it and hook Ellen up to the oximeter. When your heart is running at 200 bpm, you don’t have a lot of time, so we are all grateful to G‑d for timing our visit just so.”
For his part, Ed called it a “Divine moment,” saying that “there was no doubt that G‑d was there during our visit and played a pivotal role in saving Ellen’s life.”
As for Ellen, the recipient of the attention and good deeds, she stated: “Things may look really awful, but G‑d’s hand is there all the time, and he prepares everything that is necessary for a good outcome. All we need to do is have trust, and you will see him there.”