This story was told over firsthand from the mother of the boy. The boy’s name was Betzalel Zolti who grew up to be Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.
Once upon a time, an epidemic of eye disease overtook Jerusalem. Most of the people who contracted this ailment became blind since there was no medication against it. Betzalel was a 10 year old at the time. His father died when he was very young and his mother raised him alone with much dedication. Even at a young age it was apparent that Betzalel was very bright. In addition his love for Torah was boundless. Indeed Betzalel grew and grew in Torah despite his young age. Those who knew him predicted great things for him; his mother had high expectations of him and felt it was her mission to raise Betzalel to be a Torah giant of the next generation.
Betzalel’s mother always poured her heart out in prayer that her son be spared from the eye epidemic that raged in Jerusalem at the time. But one day Betzalel came home with complaining: “Mommy, My eyes are hurting me!” She hoped that the dreaded disease would spare him but the next day he came back from school with swollen eyes. They went to the doctor that confirmed the worst; Betzalel contracted the disease and would probably become blind from it.
And that’s what happened. The gifted 10 year old boy that everyone hoped would grow to greatness went blind. Betzalel’s mother was inconsolable all her dreams and hopes for her son disappeared. How could he learn the Torah he loves so much? She herself taught him just a bit…
In her deep pain she decided to do what all mothers before her did; she prepared to go pray at Rachel’s tomb. She took Betzalel with her and since he was blind she put him in a baby buggy to go without stumbling. It was a two hour trek by foot from the old city of Jerusalem to Rachel’s Tomb. When they arrived she started sobbing and begged G-d to have pity on her son and return his vision for all he wants is to learn the Holy Torah!
Betzalel joined his mother praying and he cried out to G-d from the depths of his heart to light up his eyes with Torah. Betzalel cried: “G-d I want to ask from you a request and I want our mother Rachel to hear this request. I am ready to give up my vision and never see my loving mother again. I’m prepared to give up ever seeing my friends again, I’m prepared never to see the food I eat again and never see the whole world you created ever again. But one thing I am not prepared to do- I want to see your Holy Torah.”
“I’m just a small boy that didn’t learn enough Torah. Your Holy Torah is vast and I want to continue to learn it; in order to do that I need my vision. I need You to return my eyesight to me!” Betzalel cried bitterly to G-d with heartrending cries. His tears streamed in a small rivulet to the tomb of Rachel and Betzalel fell asleep crying. His mother pushed him back home as he slept.
The next morning Betzalel woke up and asked his mother to let him go back to school. But his mother asked in wonderment, “but you can’t see?” He answered, Mommy I see fine now and I want to run back to school and learn Torah!
Betzalel’s mother understood that a great miracle took place. Their prayers were answered. But just to make sure she wanted him to go to the doctor to check his eyes to make sure the illness doesn’t return.
Betzalel adamantly refused, he wanted to go straight to school to learn Torah. “I got a gift from G-d, I can see again. I don’t know how long this will last; therefore I must use every spare minute to learn the Holy Torah for who knows how long I’ll be able to see!” Betzalel went to school and refused to go to the doctor for an eye checkup.
Betzalel grew up to be Rabbi Betzalel a Torah giant and Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. He was famous for his clarity depth and diligence in Torah. When people would praise him to his mother she would reply: ‘You have no idea how many tears were shed to get him to where he is today.
Story courtesy of Dirshu