By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com
Boruch Hashem, Rabbi Aryeh Zev Ginzburg has returned from the hospital. When someone ill recovers – what should we feel or do? The answer can be seen from the words of Rav Chatzkel Levenstein zt”l said when the Mir Yeshiva was in Shanghai.
Friday, May 22, 1942. It was sometime in the afternoon, on the first day of Shavuos in the year 5702 in Shanghai, China. Some bochurim from Mir had gathered at the home of Rav Chatzkel Levenstein. They spoke of the recovery of Reb Binyomin Zeilberger zt”l, a student of the Mir who, boruch Hashem had recovered from a serious illness. He later became one of the founding Roshei yeshiva of Beis haTalmud in Brooklyn. His son, Rabbi Yehudah Zeilberger shlita is one of the three Roshei Yeshiva of Bais haTalmud.
Rav Chatzkel’s words are as relevant today, in the Corona era, as they were back in Shanghai in 1942:
With someone who is ill, we can readily see Hashgacha pratis. For a number of days food does not enter the mouth.. The pains weaken the person considerably. When we ourselves do not eat for one day, we feel as if we will die in one more day – even if we [sit and] do nothing.
Regarding Reb Binyomin, his condition was quite critical for weeks. He did not have food in his mouth and he survived. He experienced much pain. His heart was so weak that the doctor said, “Certainly he must have had a heart condition the entire time – it is just that he did not realize it.”
Who does not see the Yad Hashem in his recovery?
When a patient lays ill – he has zero strength. The doctors employ various methods to strengthen him so that the heart doesn’t stop. From where does the patient get new strength to recover – to become what he was once again?
This is something that we must think about – how it happens and from where it happens. The truth is that he was already considered near death – and now it is as if he is a new person. We must truly reflect upon this greatly. For most people that do get sick do not recover – by nature this recovery is not understood well – especially an illness such as this – where there is no indication that he was ever sick – and it was all within a hairsbreadth.
The truth is when we daven “mechalkel chaim b’chessed” we should have in mind that when we get old – that which goes out is more than that which comes in – if so, our being sustained is through chessed. “Mechaye Maisim berachamim rabim” – it is obvious that this is abundant mercy to revive the dead somaich noflim – all of Creation is a combination of things that fall apart or negate each other – water and fire, wind, dust, and hashem is what keeps these items sustained and “rofeh cholim” indicates that it is the greatest chessed of them all – for this is tchias haMeisim in this world!
And the doctors truly know nothing. When I was at the doctor for Reb Binyomin, I asked him about his condition. The doctor replied, “I am doing what I can do, but the disease is such that it is impossible to know anything about.”
He further said, “This week, I was at a patient just like him, and I said that he should be brought to the hospital immediately, and he passed away immediately upon arriving in the hospital (lehavdil from Reb Binyomin, he should live long). His condition is no better than that previous patient.”
This was the doctor’s method of consolation. Do we not see vividly, the Hashgacha Pratis of Hashem to those who fear Him? [Truthfully, I was almost certain that he would recover from his illness, because when I was in Mir and the question arose regarding the foreign students whether to travel or not – he [Reb Binyamin] did the gorel HaGra and the pasuk, “Hashem will do battle for you and you shall be silent.” Yet, nonetheless, we do not take this to heart enough to bring us back to Teshuvah and the like.
When I lived by the Amnishover shlita [zatzal], he asked me with what main topics I discuss in my maamarim. When I answered that it is in matters of Emunah and hashgacha, he told me what his grandfather the Holy Yid from Pshischa once said:
If he were to show a miracle such as instantly transporting all the trees from Ishbitz to Pshischa – they would remain unfazed and say that it is pure teva – just nature! Because this is the nature of man.
I derived great pleasure from this because this is a well known mussar concept. The truth is that oisos and mofsim do not help us. This is because the evil has penetrated so deeply within our kishkes that it is impossible to uproot it. However, the knowledge must be to each person that it is possible to see Hashem’s Hashgacha on each and every step.
Rav Binyomin Zeiberger passed away in October 2005, fulfilling Rav Chatzkel’s bracha of Arichas Yamim.
This is what we should be thinking when anyone recovers from a serious illness.
Culled from MiMizrach Shemesh pp 44-45. The translator can be reached at [email protected]