Naomi and Shlomo (their full names were withheld upon request), a religious couple who lives in Jerusalem, tried to conceive for five years. During those years they ran from doctor to doctor and tried the most advanced treatments and the best spiritual remedies for fertility — unsuccessfully. Finally, Naomi decided she was going to the grave of Rav Ovadia Yosef, and wouldn’t leave the place until she felt her prayers were accepted. Three weeks later, she received the long-awaited news: “You’re pregnant.”
The first birthday of their little daughter, Shira, fell this week. In honor of the happy occasion, they wish to thank the Creator for the gift they received, and also to share with the readers of “Hidabroot” the miracle that happened to them.
“We got married seven years ago,” says Naomi. “Like any young couple, we hoped to have children, and were very optimistic. But time passed and I didn’t become pregnant. We thought it would eventually occur, but two and then three years passed with nothing happening. In the meantime, all our other friends had children, while we were stuck in the same place. We realized glumly that we’re not like everyone else.
“As time passed, I became depressed. It was a difficult period in my life. I cannot describe the pain. Everywhere you go, you are reminded that you have no children. When you meet friends, they talk about their children. At family gatherings, everyone is interested in you and wishes you “May you have one soon.” I would walk down the street and see kids playing, or pregnant women. It was grief that I could not avoid. Everywhere there were painful reminders of my situation.”
Naomi and her husband prayed a lot, went to rabbis to receive blessings, traveled to the tombs of righteous rabbis and tried all the spiritual remedies. At the same time, they went for medical treatments. “It started with easy treatments, and when they did not work, we tried more difficult and more painful treatments. I was willing to undertake the most difficult treatment to conceive. I underwent many series, but unfortunately, nothing helped. My husband supported me the entire way and always believed that we would succeed, but after more than five years without children, I was ready to give up. I kept going to doctors, but inwardly, I lost my hope to be a mother.”
Then came the turning point in the life of Naomi and Shlomo. “One day a neighbor suggested that I host a talk for women by a rebetzin in the neighborhood. She apparently asked me because my house was probably the only one in the building where there were no children to disturb. Of course I agreed, and invited the neighbors and friends. The rebetzin gave a fascinating lesson on the importance of Jewish women’s modesty, especially in our generation.
“At the end of the lesson I shared my problem with the rebetzin. She told me something I will never forget: “My dear friend, G-d runs this world ‘tit for tat’. If you want our Creator to do an act which is above nature — you should also transcend your nature. This is the only way it works.”
She told me she knew of dozens of women who saw a great salvation after they became particular about modest dress according to Jewish law.
What did you think of this proposal?
“The rebetzin hit the exact point which I found very, very hard. I knew myself that I had a lot to improve in terms of dressing modestly, but I just could not. I was ready to do a lot of other things, just not to change my dress. For me it was like sacrificing a part of myself. But despite the great difficulty, I gathered my courage and decided to go for it. That day I accepted upon myself to start going only with ankle-length skirts.”
And it helped?
“When I look back and connect the points, I understand that this was my breakthrough. From the moment I transcended my nature, things started to move in a different direction.”
“I wanted to say farewell personally from my rabbi”
A few days later, on the ninth day of Kislev, a coworker told Naomi that this is a time of favor, the ninth day of the ninth month, and she should pray on this day and especially at the ninth hour of the day. She also told her that people were organizing a large prayer group to recite prayers at the grave of Rav Ovadia Yosef.
Naomi asked a coworker to fill in for her, and she went to the Sanhedria cemetery. “I always felt linked to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of blessed memory. He was the spiritual leader in our home. The whole house lived according to his rulings and his practices. I felt he was like a father to me. When he died I just cried. It hurt a lot. Unfortunately, I never got a personal blessing from him during his lifetime for my infertility. Now I had the chance to pray at his tomb. I wanted to say goodbye to him in person and ask for help.
“When I got to the cemetery, I was surprised by all the commotion. It was just over a month after the death of rabbi and many people had come to pray on this particular day, including some great rabbis. I went to the women’s side, I covered my eyes with my prayer book and began to pray. Without any special preparation, I just spoke from the heart.
“It was a prayer completely different from what I prayed until that day. As if something had loosened inside me after the resolution that I had undertaken. Even though I was whispering my prayers, a great cry burst from my heart. For a long time I had cried from within the walls of my heart. I believed in the power and greatness of the rabbi. I begged him to help me and pray for me up above. I told him that I cannot bear these treatments and I am suffering. I told him I need his help. I want to be a mother. I felt really close. It was the most powerful prayer I ever said.”
Naomi returned home and her life seemed to continue as usual. “One night I dreamed I was in the Yazdim synagogue in Jerusalem. This is the famous synagogue where Rabbi Yosef used give his lectures every Saturday night. I was sleeping, but I was in a state of high alert. It was more like a daydream. It was not an ordinary dream. Rabbi Yosef appeared very clear. In the dream, a festive event was taking place in the hall and Rabbi Yosef was present. He sat at the table of honor in his gold robe, speaking words of Torah to the audience. I remember every detail, even the faces of the women who were standing next to me in the women’s section.
“I had a strong desire to approach the rabbi and ask for his blessing, but I was embarrassed because he was on the side of the men. At one point I could not hold back. I had to vent my pain. I covered my eyes and started running toward him without looking right or left. I came up to the Rabbi overwhelmed by emotion, and asked for his blessing. He asked me: “What do you want me to bless you with?” I was surprised by his question. I felt so close to him and I thought he knew. “I want children!” I replied.
Maran listened and then said: “I rule that within twenty days you will be pregnant.” Immediately after, I woke up.
When Naomi woke up in the morning, she immediately told her husband about the dream. “It really strengthened me. It was clear to both of us that something unusual had happened here, because I normally do not dream. That gave us new hope towards the last treatment I had to undergo in the current series.
“I went to the calendar and was amazed”
But when Naomi and her husband came for the treatment, unforeseen difficulties emerged. “The doctor suddenly announced that despite all the treatments I went through that month, she was forced to recommend that I not do the concluding treatment which was in fact the most critical. In other words, she informed me that all the agony I had gone through that month was in vain. My disappointment was great. I tried to convince her to do it but she was resolute. She said that I could not have the treatment because they see a threat to my health and the hospital cannot take responsibility for continuing treatment. We did not understand how this suddenly had fallen upon us.”
What did you do?
“As always, we consulted with Rabbi Schlesinger, from the Pri Chaim organization, who voluntarily gives his expert advice on matters of fertility. We told him the situation and he said not to worry and advised us to have the final treatment despite the doctors’ recommendations.”
Naomi and Shlomo went to the doctor, and told her that they would do the treatment after all. “She did not like it, but we were full of faith. We told her, ‘If the rabbi said we have to do it — we do it!’ We did the last treatment. After that, we had to await and see the outcome.”
Two weeks after the final treatment, Naomi went to do a blood test that was supposed to indicate if she had conceived. “When I got home I had a good feeling. I felt that this time it will work. In the middle of lunch, the phone call came from the chief nurse. She had accompanied us for a large part of the process and knew me personally. She informed me, “You’re pregnant.” There was no one happier than me in the world.
“After hanging up the phone, I sat down to say Grace After Meals in tears. I think it was the most emotional Grace After Meals that I had ever said. I thanked the Creator of the world without end. When I calmed down, I went to the calendar and was shocked to find out that it was exactly twenty days since the dream in which Rabbi Yosef blessed me. Straight after I called my husband and I shouted: “I’m pregnant! The blessing was fulfilled!”
What about the health hazard?
“In the end everything went well, thank G-d. In the second month of pregnancy, we did tests that showed there was no harm to my health. At that point I realized that the hospital’s attempt to prevent the treatment at the moment of truth was all divine providence. I made the mistake of attributing the success of the pregnancy to the wisdom of humans or medicine, of one sort or another. But I realized that all the delays were meant to teach me that only the Creator gave me my daughter. He was by my side all along and He did not forget me for one second. Heaven left me no doubt. I knew that G-d had heard my prayer.”
After six years of waiting, Naomi and Shlomo embraced a little daughter. “It was the happiest moment of my life. I could not stop crying. I was full of appreciation and gratitude to the Almighty. I waited for her for six years. I realized how true it is that nothing is self-evident.”
Looking back, what do you think about the difficult times you’ve been through?
“It was a gift for me. I learned a lot. Despite all the hardship and suffering, I would not give up what I went through. Now I understand that my daughter is on loan from G-d, and I know to appreciate it. I undertake the difficulties in raising children with joy and relief.
“The whole process made me realize how important modesty is in the eyes of our Creator. It also helped me to grow stronger in faith and understand that G-d is watching over us every moment.
“Today it is clear to me that whatever G-d does is for the best. Even in the toughest moments — He is there to guide us. I used to think that bad is bad. Today I realize that what I think is bad is actually good. Because G-d knows exactly what is good for me and all I have to do is trust Him and say thanks in all circumstances.”