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Returning From There    

Returning From There

In the middle of a childbirth that was beyond the worst nightmare, she felt her strength ebbing away. "Get me Rav Arush!" she screamed, but the Rav was nowhere to be found…


Translated by Chana Cohen



“Creator of the Universe, I have no more strength… I can’t do it anymore… Do whatever you want with me…” Then, I went up there... I was there and I returned.


I don’t know how many of you know my story, but it really doesn’t matter. I gave birth to my oldest daughter about two and a half months ago and I nearly left this world.


Yes. It really happened to me. I had a near-death experience (NDE) in which I was here and also up there. I watched everything happen in the labor room and the corridor from above. I heard and saw my husband and my sister talking and praying for me.


When I was hospitalized a few days before I gave birth, I already had a bad feeling that something was very wrong. My neighbor’s daughter called my mother in the morning asking if I was okay, because the whole day she couldn’t stop thinking about me and she had a feeling that something very bad was happening. My father, G-d bless him, asked that a special prayer be recited on my behalf when opening the Holy Ark in the synagogue to remove the Torah scrolls. Close friends had terrible dreams about me. In general, there were many hints and signs that it was going to be very hard for me and that there was a severe judgement against me from Heaven.


The labor began and it was extremely difficult, to say the least. I needed medical intervention; the doctors themselves said that such a hard birth could make it into the Guiness Book of World Records!


The entire time I was crying and screaming in pain, despite having received an Epidural injection. Why? The tube through which the Epidural was flowing “escaped” from my back. I hadn’t felt a thing and so I had no idea what happened. G-d, in his tremendous compassion for me, sent the head of the department over. My sister asked him to please come and see what was going on with me, since I had gotten the Epidural but was still in terrible pain. He came to check it out, and found that the tube had been released from my back.


Then, at the apex of the birth, after I finally got the epidural, I sensed something very difficult and heavy floating above me. I don’t even know how to describe it, all I know is that I felt very bad and it was difficult, not just physically but also spiritually. I desperately wanted to speak to Rabbi Arush. I felt my strength ebbing away and then I didn’t even have the energy to breathe. I felt as if I was here but not really here anymore…


Despite the efforts of those near me, no one succeeded in reaching or locating Rav Arush. He simply vanished. Even his wife, the Rabbanit, couldn’t get in touch with him. Afterwards, she told us that the Rav had left the house very early that morning, and that in itself was strange, for he never left the house before eating the breakfast that the Rabbanit prepared for him. That day, the Rav simply disappeared early in the morning and no one had a clue as to where he was…


I could barely speak anymore; I just kept begging, “Get in touch with the Rav… I need to speak to him… tell him what’s happening to me…” Meanwhile, I kept getting weaker not just physically, but mostly spiritually. I began to understand that I no longer had control over myself and something bad was happening with my soul, I don’t know what it was and I can’t explain it.


“Find the Rav...find the Rav…” I kept begging.

But the Rav had vanished…

In order to save me.


That entire day, he had prayed on my behalf in a way that only great and righteous people like him are capable of doing.


The Rav had vanished to save me!


At the end of the day, when everything was over and I was already recovering, my Rabbi and teacher Harav Shalom Arush, to whom I owe my life (not for the first time) told me: “Ruchama, you should know that I was with you in your pain the entire day. I know, it was very, very difficult...”


When I met with Rav Arush a few weeks later, I asked him: “HaRav, was I really about to die?” He smiled and didn’t respond. I asked again and once again he didn’t respond. When I asked a third time, the Rav told me: “Ruchama, there was a very harsh judgement against you…”


Back to the birth.


The pain had turned into an inferno, into real torture. Following pain and screaming that is impossible to describe, I screamed my final cry amidst sobbing and tears: “Master of the World, I have no more strength… I can’t do this anymore… do whatever You want with me…”


My husband and my sister heard everything and began sobbing. They began to realize that this was no regular birth and that there was tremendous complication. They understood that my situation was critical.


I was about to die and I found myself in the courtroom of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. I had gone up to Heaven…


I was near Rabbeinu (Rebbe Nachman).

Everything was very calm and pleasant.


The sky was a pale blue and the stage was cream-colored. Written on the table in bold black letters were the words: “The Courthouse of Rabbeinu”. I didn’t see Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, but I felt him with an intensity that cannot be put into words. Rebbe Nachman was in the room. I was frightened and trembling as I told him, “Rabbeinu, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want my husband to be a widower and my baby to be an orphan…”


Then Rebbe Nachman told me: “Ruchama, leave here. Go back down.”


I went down. I returned to my body. I was entirely inside my body. My entire soul was in my body.


I knew that I was alive.


I knew that the harsh decree was now over.


I was barely alive, and my pulse was very low, so I was given an injection to modulate my heart rate, and I was being given oxygen because I had trouble breathing.


Later that evening, when I knew that my mother was coming, I asked my sister to prepare her and tell her that I looked dreadful. My face was blown up and I had black stains under my eyes. I couldn’t move and could barely breathe. I was in terrible pain, but I knew, I knew that I was alive. Alive and breathing. “No matter what happens,” I told myself, “now I’m alive.”


This is my story about how I had nearly died. About life here and there, and that we have no control over life. We think that we’re all-powerful, but really we’re nothing. Zero. Man is worth nothing. When the call comes, we can’t do anything about it. Only the Creator and His good messengers can help us. I learned a lot from this experience, but that’s already the subject of another article. However, the main message here is to appreciate every moment of life; nothing is to be taken for granted, and nothing is in our control.




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