“When I was recovering from surgery, I became hysterical because I couldn’t breathe. I tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out. Suddenly I saw doctors nervously entering my room and talking to each other, but no one bothered to explain what was happening,” Limor Tabibi (37), from Hod Hasharon, married with four children, begins her moving story. She experienced clinical death about three years ago, which had the effect of strengthening her religiously. It all started when Tabibi, who suffers from overweight, decided she wanted to save herself from the family history of diabetes and live her life as a healthy person. “Diabetes is a sore subject in our family, and I didn’t want to undergo the pain and suffering which it causes. I underwent a series of medical tests to see if I was a candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy. Although I knew the risks it involved, the doctors believed I had no cause for concern.”
The surgery was carried out on Tabibi and the operation went well, but right after, problems began emerging. “After the surgery, I was transferred to the recovery room and it seemed that everything went fine. But when I woke up, I felt I was suffocating. Within a few minutes I saw a crowd of doctors gathered around me, but no one spoke to me. No one opened his mouth and said there were problems.” The doctors decided to bring her back to the operating room, but when they tried to transfer her to another bed — she lost consciousness. “I saw my body lying on the bed, but I was not in it,” recalls Tabibi, the fear perceptible on her face until today. “My soul wandered around the room and saw everything occurring in detail. I saw the attendant standing to my right, my husband standing outside and crying, one of the nurses giving him tranquilizers, and the doctors trying to smack my face and other methods to wake me up, including injecting various substances into my body. I saw myself open my mouth and try to talk to them, but I did not understand why they couldn’t hear me.”
After 45 minutes that seemed like an eternity — she was finally put in a resuscitation machine. Then, in a fraction of a second, Tabibi returned back to her body through her nostrils, but not before she heard a voice echoing in her head several times, telling her: “You must repent.” “The doctors put an oxygen mask over my face and asked if I was still having trouble breathing. Instead of answering them, I found myself talking about what I had experienced and saw. They were shocked by what they heard, but they thought I was crazy and treated me like a nutcase.”
The hair that dropped out grew again after she covered her head
She spent three days in intensive care with breathing difficulties and constant vomiting. Then, for the following two and a half years — she had to face the difficulty of another surgery (bypass surgery), with countless complications. You could describe it: the operation succeeded, but the patient nearly died. Why almost? Because at the last second, Tabibi understood the message that she believed heaven was trying to convey to her. The doctors had no clue as to what caused the suffocation that she felt. But Tabibi’s explanation is clear enough, alive inside of her and responsible for her spiritual strengthening after this ordeal.
“I always believed in G-d and was a traditional Jew. But I did not have the most basic thing which every Jew must believe in with wholehearted faith and without questions. I did not believe in the Afterlife. And it certainly was reflected in my daily actions — I didn’t wear modest clothes, I did not cover my head, and other such things. Of course I was aware that repenting would affect all this. I knew I had to repent out of love, but I refused to. I did not want to repent. It seemed to me that the world I lived in — one foot here and one foot there — was the best. The most balanced.”
So what was the straw that broke the camel's back?
(She straightens the scarf on her head and smiles) “I was in a very bad way. I could not walk on my feet, not to mention the internal damage caused to my stomach following the continual vomiting. The absurd was that there was nothing to throw up — over a long period of a year and a half, I did not eat or drink a thing. Exactly so. My stomach refused to take in an iota of food or drinks. How did I live? Only G-d knows. From injections and infusions.”
Even then, Tabibi says, she continued to “go with her head against the wall” and attribute artificial reasons for everything that happened to her, while inside her — she knew very well what the source of it all was, who sent her the ordeal and why. “When I continued to be stiff-necked, I was dealt a blow in the most precious thing for a woman — my hair.” Tabibi then describes the frightful ordeal: It wasn’t enough what she had gone through already, now her hair began to fall out until “I had only a few tufts of hair like a newborn baby.” She underwent various tests, visited leading experts and invested a huge sum of money in order to get to the root of the problem — to no avail. Nothing worked.
So she decided to take the advice of a rav she knew to cover her head. And lo and behold, what the doctors and different methods of nutrition could not solve, this little step solved. “Until today, when I talk about it, I feel a chill going through me. I knew it was the last call to enter the train. Within three months from when I started covering my hair, I became a different person, and all the problems disappeared. There may be people who doubt my words, but G-d is my witness that I am telling the truth and only the truth: the medical problems were completely solved. Today I can walk, run, and am active at home. The doctors have no explanation for it, and no one could have an explanation for it, except for the One and Only who sends us challenges, hoping we will wake up one day.”
Following her personal miracle — her entire family is getting stronger spiritually: the children were transferred to religious kindergartens and schools, and she and her husband have already accepted upon themselves to keep Shabbat and kosher food, prayers, modest dress and regular times to study Torah. “The doctors do not have the answer, but G-d has,” she smiles at me with knowing eyes, “and His answer is the only answer to all our problems.”