Last month, a Newsweek Magazine cover story caught my eye. The photo illustration showed a hand reaching toward Heaven with the headline: “Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience of the Afterlife.” It told the unusual story of Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who had taught at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Alexander considered himself a scientist who could rationally explain anything, including near-death revelations of G-d. But his total reliance on science would soon change. He contracted a rare form of bacterial meningitis, which attacked his brain and sent him into a deep coma. And what he encountered during his seven days in that coma was beyond anything he was prepared to expect as a physician.
To his surprise, his earthly existence was exchanged for a spiritual one. Now more soul than body, he experienced the reality of the two things he had previously never allowed himself to believe in: Heaven and a living G-d who loves his creations unconditionally.
The awareness he gained in that coma profoundly changed him. At the risk of destroying his professional reputation, he compiled his heavenly revelations in Proof of Heaven, his book published this year (it’s currently #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list). Besides the Newsweek cover story, his coma experience also landed him guest appearances on “The Dr. Oz Show” and an Oprah Winfrey special. His intention of going public was to prove to the world, especially the medical world, that the spiritual realm actually exists, and that the road to truth lies beyond science alone.
For me, Dr. Alexander’s best-selling coma story felt a little like déjà vu. It reminded me of Rafael, the son of a friend of mine.
When Rafael was 19 years old, he had an adverse reaction from a medication he had taken and was rushed to the nearest hospital. In the emergency room, the doctors gave him a new medication, which caused him to go into cardiac arrest. He soon sank into a coma.
Day after day, Rafael remained in a vegetative state. His doctors all but wrote him off, but his parents were determined to get him out of that coma. One day, Rafael’s psychologist suggested they get Rafael to communicate to them through facilitated communication.
Facilitated communication is a method that helps nonverbal, disabled people form words and sentences. A “facilitator” gently supports the wrist of the disabled persons as they strike the letters of a keyboard or point to the letters on a language board. Rafael’s parents were eager to use facilitated communication on Rafael; they wanted to know how he was feeling. Was he hungry? Was he in pain? Was there something they could do to help him?
What Rafael’s parents would soon discover was that Rafael was disconnected from the physical world. They would learn, through facilitated communication, that they were conversing with his soul. And his soul revealed wondrous messages about G-d, the spiritual realm, the Jewish people and the entire world.
Before the coma, Rafael was in a rebellious stage in his life. It was not his way to talk about G-d. But in the coma, Rafael’s soul talked constantly about G-d (which makes sense because the soul is a tiny part of G-d).
Rafael’s father gave me the transcript of all the facilitated communication sessions to publicize. And though Rafael’s coma took place more than 15 years ago, Rafael’s heavenly messages are relevant today. Maybe even more so. His messages not only lift the veil of the spiritual world, they also contain warnings to the Jewish people of potential danger we still face. More importantly, though, his messages have helped those who have heard them draw closer to G-d.
Here are just a few brief excerpts of Rafael’s soul messages.
December 22, 1996
I have been given a key. I hope that I will know to use it. I will tell you what I have been told. My friend here also needs to hear this. There is only one reason for life. Loving every Jew no matter what. That is Torah. That is life. Everything else is a lie. Tatty (Rafael’s father), I am so young. I don’t want to die …. Tatty, a man with a long white beard came to me and told me that Hashem loves me and wants me back. I was very frightened. Yes every word he spoke made me feel calmer. He was very familiar and I felt so close to him. I felt he really cared for me. He told me that all that I felt was untrue is true and that soon every Jew will know the truth. He told me that those who refuse to accept the obvious will not be able to live.
Tatty, for the first time in my life I understood. I could see past myself into eternity. Tatty, I am not the only one living a lie. I am just the obvious one. He told me that we are in danger. Only true love can save us but I told him that I don’t know what that means. I never experienced such a feeling. He told me that Hashem wants to shower us with His love and affection but we only love ourselves and therefore cannot receive His love. Tatty, at that moment I felt so good, so whole, so complete. Tatty, it is ecstasy to have Him love you…. Now I can reassure you that Olam Haba (Heaven) really exists and the greatest love imaginable really exists. Tatty, it is in our souls. He is our only Father or Mother or Lover or Friend. That is the only source of love. Yes, I, most of my life, was begging for love but I couldn’t receive or give. I never could understand. Tatty, only givers will survive. That is the truth that was revealed to me.
December 23, 1996
I feel so many strange feelings. Mommy, I feel G-d. I think I feel Him. I had that visitor again. He told me that G-d saved me from destruction. He told me that salvation is near for all of us. He said that I have a great soul and G-d wouldn’t allow me to destroy it. Mommy, who would believe that I would receive a message from Heaven. My friends would crack up.
(Rafael soon discovers that this visitor with the white beard is his great-grandfather who passed away when Rafael was a young child. In subsequent messages, he refers to this visitor as Zaidy)
January 7, 1997
Tatty, I want to tell you something very disturbing to me. He came again last night. Zaidy told me that he is very worried. He knows that the ... I’m afraid to tell you this but he said that the heavenly decree against the people of Israel and the world stands. He said that the time is near and the whole of nature is the first warning. Zaidy said that all that has happened in the last space of time is warning us, but only a few are listening. Tatty, he was so worried. He said whatever happens in Israel will only be a beginning for the world. Pray, Tatty. It scared me also.
February 3, 1997
I know Mommy that we are all in for hard times. Good news will only come when we all of us do teshuva (return to G-d). It isn’t only us. It is everyone. Yes, wars big and small. Earthquakes and many so-called natural deaths. Mommy, I am one of these disasters. Look at me. It defies understanding. Mistake of the hospital – baloney. Don’t you understand what is really happening? Hashem is warning and warning, but who is listening? At this rate, there won’t be many left for the final count.
February 7, 1997
I just have to say that Zaidy was wearing black. I asked him why. He said that the heavenly decree is in effect. He has only told what we should know.
February 9, 1997
Mommy, redemption has begun. Yes, it is a long road. Zaidy told me it won’t be easy. It could still last years, but it has begun. Moshiach (the Messiah), that is what Zaidy told me. There may be a shorter time span. He doesn’t know, but it has surely started. It is the beginning of the end.
June 22, 1997
I want to give a message to anyone interested. I want to tell everyone that every single person that seems in anyway handicapped; whether he or she is down, or autistic or cerebral palsy or any other mental handicap or unconscious like I was as after a stroke or a victim of Alzheimer’s or any other medical problem that renders a person mentally unaware or handicapped -- all of us know, hear, and understand everything. We are not able to express ourselves fully, but we are aware. We feel and suffer, and are happy. We are happier even than the normal ones because we see truth much more than you do. That is, of course, those of us that are true believers. Those handicapped that were never true believers suffer much because the truth is more painful for them. Please realize the truth of my words. I am one who came back and can tell the story. Listen to me. It can save you from destruction and your handicapped relatives from much suffering. Remember always that inside we are all the same.
* * *
Rafael’s coma lasted more than six months. When he miraculously woke up, he became (and remains today) strongly committed to serving G-d, observing the Torah and helping others.
Summing up his entire spiritual transformation in the coma, Rafael wrote: “We need to have perfect trust in Hashem…. No matter how difficult things may be, we can’t let it weaken our service [to G-d]. We have to accept that whatever happens to a person in this world is the best thing for that person.”