A religious family took a trip to Teveria. The wife and two daughters went down to the Kinneret to swim while the husband went to the grave of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness to pray. The girls started swimming when suddenly the older one who didn’t know how to swim lost her footing was swept away in a current and started drowning. Their mother was by the shore and she saw her daughter drowning. Not knowing how to swim she ran to the road to stop a passing car, perhaps someone could help. She tried flagging down a few cars but they all calmly drove by. Drivers honked at her hinting to her to move and one even shouted at her angrily.
Finally someone stopped. A well-dressed man stepped out and asked what happened. The mother shouted, “My daughter is drowning“ pointing to the water. The man tore his jacket off and ran to the water as his wife in the car called out after him,” don’t forget you are after a heart attack!” He dove under the surface and pulled the small girl out.
The mother was relieved until she understood that this was her younger daughter. She started shouting, “my older daughter is still in the water where is she?” The man ran back to the water and asked where? The mother spotted her and pointed far away shouting “there”. The man found her and swam back to the shore with her. People saw her head bobbing in the water and they yelled at him; “take her head out of the water.” He lifted her out of the water, her head propped up on his shoulder. People started to resuscitate her till the paramedics came. But it was too late. The paramedics checked her pulse and found none. “She was underwater too long we couldn’t save her” they told the mother sadly. They took her to the hospital where the doctors repeated what the mother already knew, it was too late.
As the doctor finished his words he saw the girl stir and exclaimed, “I don’t believe it; her brain function is kicking in.” The family saw a miracle happening right in front of their eyes but prayed for a complete recovery. Eventhough she’s alive, who knows if she won’t have brain damage G-d forbid? A few hours later doctors said: “This is a medical miracle she has full brain function and she’s getting up! This is really rare because her brain was oxygen starved for a long time!” A few days later she was discharged from the hospital, totally recovered.
The family made a party to show gratitude to G-d for helping their daughter survive and totally recover. They tracked down the man who ran into the water to save her and invited him to the party. This man, a lawyer from a kibbutz was religiously unaffiliated. But he had the following to say:
“When I was younger I actually was an Olympic swimmer and though I haven’t swum for many years I just started swimming again last week to recover from my heart attack. If I hadn’t started swimming aweek ago I wouldn’t have had a chance to save your daughter! I saved the first one and then the second one but I thought to myself, what did I do, her head was in the water the whole time! I think I killed her! I came home feeling horrible, crying to my wife, “I killed this girl”. I didn’t lift her head out of the water. My wife wouldn’t hear of it and she cried back, “you saved her life!” and I cried back “but I didn’t lift her head out of the water? It’s all my fault, she could have lived!”
The man continued, “I couldn’t live with myself and I went back to where it happened. I climbed a mountain, looked to the heavens and I cried out; Master of the world! I’ve never prayed to you before! I grew up in a kibbutz and we used to make fun of prayer. For me prayer was always something embarrassing. This is the first time in my whole life that I’m praying to you. I can’t continue living like this. Please G-d, consider it as if I’ve prayed to you my whole life and take all of those prayers I should have prayed and use them to save this girl!”
I went home and called up the hospital. They told me that the girl woke up a few minutes before. It was the same time I was praying.
What took more courage, this man's valiant swimming or his prayers? At the moment we think we failed, that is the moment that can be utilized to plant the seeds of salvation.