6 min read
A miraculous true story demonstrates the power of prayer and reminds us never to give up hope.
The results of the CT scans and MRIs were conclusive and irrefutable: Raquel, a 31-year-old wife and mother of two lying in a coma had irreversible brain damage due to prolonged oxygen deprivation. According to scientific studies, in a case like this it would be next to impossible for a person to awake from their coma.
Weeks earlier, Raquel and her husband were vacationing in Florida when she woke up in the middle of the night saying that she didn’t feel well. She collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. But it was too late; Raquel’s body completely shut down. Every organ in her body was failing and she was put on life support.
“You need to get here as fast as possible. The situation is dire.”
Raquel’s husband called her parents in New York, telling them to come right away. Just before takeoff the doctor called them. “You need to get here as fast as possible. The situation is dire.”
Hours later, the entire family and close friends came together on a conference call to recite Psalms while doctors desperately worked to save Raquel’s life. During the intense prayer session Raquel coded, but doctors managed to get her heartbeat back, and her situation slowly stabilized.
During the first few weeks in the hospital, her organs began to regain their function and she was able to breathe on her own, but Raquel remained in a deep coma.
During this entire time Jews around the world sprang into action, storming the Heavens with their prayers and taking on additional mitzvot and acts of kindness for the merit of Raquel, Chaya Raizel bas Dina. The family was particularly supported by the Ohel Sara Amen group, a group of women in the Five Towns who come together every day to pray and learn Torah with an emphasis on truly integrating one’s belief in God in their day-to-day life.
“In the end it is all good. If it’s not good, it’s not the end yet!"
Although there was much sadness and despair, Raquel’s mother focused on her deep faith and trust in the Almighty. She wrote to a small group of women, “In the end it is all good. If it’s not good, it’s not the end yet! Please keep davening and learning for my daughter, and remember that God loves our children even more than we do. God’s mercy is even greater than ours. We don’t have to understand everything. We just have to give it over to God and let Him carry us through. May we hear good news soon.”
By the fourth week the family was able to transfer Raquel back to New York. The family, holding onto any threads of hope, received the results of the CT scan and MRI that was confirmed by a seasoned expert that Raquel had suffered massive, irreversible brain damage. The vibrant girl they all loved was no more.
The news plunged the family into grief. They gathered around their beloved daughter, wife and sister, and cried together. It is basically unheard of for someone in this condition to recover.
Raquel’s mother was steadfast in her abiding faith, grateful that her daughter was at least breathing on her own, and mindful of the incredible power of prayer to heal. Seven weeks after Raquel’s collapse, as she laid in a coma, the mother wrote, “I have spent much time contemplating this new reality. I do not know God’s will for us at this time but I trust that whatever it is it will be for our ultimate good and that it comes from a place of pure love. No, it does not feel like love and it does not feel good, but I overcome both of these feelings knowing that I do not have to understand God’s ways to totally trust that God wants what is good for me and my family. Trust in God is also acquired by learning gratitude. Focusing on the myriad blessings in my life and seeing each blessing as a personal expression of God’s love for me has helped me to trust Him. He has shown me so much kindness in so many ways that I have to trust that this challenge will prove ultimately to be an act of great kindness for us as well.”
Focusing on the myriad blessings in my life and seeing each blessing as a personal expression of God’s love for me has helped me to trust Him.
Raquel’s husband and mother sat at her side day in and day out. The women of the Ohel Sara Amen group arranged for Rabbi Paysach Krohn to take them to the gravesites of great rabbis who are laid to rest in the New York area, where they would pour their hearts out in prayer, beseeching God to grant Chaya Raizel bas Dina a complete healing. Raquel’s mother joined the group of 48 women as they went to the grave of Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rabbi Avraham Pam and Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz as well as other Torah luminaries.
After finishing their prayers at one of the gravesites, Raquel’s mother’s phone rang and she saw it was her husband calling. She quickly picked up the phone.
“I want you to talk to someone," her husband said.
She froze in her tracks. “Is this Raquel?”
"Raquel, how are you!"
"Good, boruch Hashem."
Raquel’s mother started shrieking. "Raquel is up! Raquel is up! She is talking!!"
Her husband got back on the phone and she asked him, "Is this for real?"
"Thirty doctors and nurses are in the room right now to witness this miracle. They can't believe it. This is for real."
"Put her back on," she said as she put the phone on speaker. "Raquel say hello to all the ladies who are davening for you."
The women, in total astonishment, immediately recited mizmor l'todah and the Nishmas prayer thanking God for His unfathomable kindness. Everyone was stunned by the incredible display of the potency of prayer they had just witnessed.
We are on the heels of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av that commemorates the destruction of the Temple and the horrific exile and persecutions the Jewish people have experienced throughout history. Today we are living in times of darkness and confusion, witnessing the alarming rise of anti-Semitism around the globe, the onslaught of assimilation, and brutal terrorism by enemies who want to wipe out the Jewish people. It is easy to despair.
But our Sages teach, Yeshuat Hashem k’heref ayin – God’s salvation and deliverance is like a blink of an eye (Pesikta Zutreta, Esther 4:17). Despite the bleakness of the situation and the darkness that feels completely irreversible, it can all change instantly. The Almighty can do anything; it is up to us to fervently ask and to remember that He loves us.
Please continue to pray for the full recovery of Chaya Raizel bas Dina.