The Maharal (Neitzach Yisrael 10) writes that when Hashem places Jews in positions of power, from which they are able to save their people, this reveals His special love and protection for us. The Purim story, the incredible hashgachah, and the fact that Mordechai and Esther were appointed to positions of authority to bring about Haman’s downfall, teaches us the importance of Emunas Chachamim. We must always look for Hashem when He is not clearly present, but even more so must we trust the insight of our Torah leaders who are better able to strip away the physical mask that conceals spiritual reality and show us the truth. For klal Yisrael, these are the true keys to salvation and redemption.
The following story was told to me by the brother of the woman about whom the story is told. A woman living in Memphis, Tennessee, entered her ninth month of pregnancy. Everything had gone well up until this point, and her doctor assured her that in just four more weeks, her healthy baby would be delivered.
A few short days before her due date, she began to feel excruciating pain in her abdomen. At first, it was bearable, but it soon became so painful that she ran to her doctor to find out the cause. The doctor performed an ultrasound and was surprised to see that the baby had turned inside the womb, otherwise known as breeched. At this late stage in the pregnancy, said the doctor, a baby’s position is usually set and he or she does not move around. He ordered that a Caesarean section (surgery to manually remove the baby) be done the very next day to alleviate any potential distress or danger to the baby.
The mother-to-be was frantic with worry and felt that before relying on the say-so of the gentile doctor, she would rather turn to a “Higher Power” for guidance and reassurance. She called her brother who was living in Jerusalem and implored him to travel to B’nei Brak immediately and go in to Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita with this query: Should she go for a Caesarean section or wait for the baby to be born naturally?
Well, the brother didn’t waste another minute. He traveled to B’nei Brak without delay and explained to the gabbai manning the door at Rav Chaim’s home that he had a life-and-death question for the Rav. Of course, he was let right in and he explained the critical situation to the tzadik.
As is well known, Rav Chaim is not a man of many words. Usually, he can answer even a lengthy and complicated query with a few short and succinct words. This case was no different. As soon as Rav Chaim heard the question, he looked up at the brother and pronounced, “V’nahafoch hu!” (words from Megillas Esther 9:1 that translate as “It was turned”). Then, with his customary benediction of “brachah v’hatzlachah” (blessing and success), Rav Chaim indicated that the interview had concluded. In fact, the gabbai quickly moved to hurry the brother out of the room, explaining that Rav Chaim was leaving anyway, and he had received his answer.
The brother, however, was confused. He had asked a simple question – should she have the procedure done tomorrow or not – and the Rav had answered with a totally unrelated comment. What did it mean? How did it answer his question? His sister was waiting with bated breath for his call, and he had no idea what to tell her. Relying on a bit of good old-fashioned determination, he ran back into the house and waited until Rav Chaim came walking out. Then, he quickly approached and before he could be shooed away by the gabbai, he again asked the question hoping for an answer – any definitive answer – that he could report back to his sister. Rav Chaim was walking with his head slightly bowed, and as soon as the question was asked, he looked up at the brother with piercing eyes, as if to say, “Didn’t I answer you already?” The brother persisted and finally Rav Chaim waved him away, saying, “V’nahafoch hu! V’nahafoch hu!” The gabbai hustled Rav Chaim into the waiting car, and the brother stood there and watched as the tzadik drove away.
He called his sister in America and told her what the Rav said. Although he did not understand the answer, she seemed to comprehend immediately. She called her doctor and asked if he could do another ultrasound. Of course, doctors do not like to be second-guessed – especially by the patient – and he put up a fuss, claiming that, in 30 years, he had never had such a case of breeching and it warranted an emergency response. The woman, however, was firm and she finally convinced him to order the test. How shocked and surprised he was when the results came back and the baby had turned back around!
The pain had subsided and the woman was sent home. However, two days later, she came running back to the hospital with the same excruciating pain. The doctor took one look and knew instinctively that the baby was again breeched and this time, he wasted no time in ordering an immediate Caesarean section in the operating room. But the woman was not so sure and she begged the doctor to do just one more ultrasound. At first, he wouldn’t even consider it, but after she reminded him about the last time when she had been right, he reluctantly went along with her wishes and ordered the scan. Wouldn’t you know it! The baby had turned back around a second time.
Ultimately, the healthy and beautiful baby was born naturally a few days later and the story of the turning baby spread like wildfire. When asked how she knew that the baby had turned the second time, she answered, “When Rav Chaim said ‘V’nahafoch hu! V’nahafoch hu!’ two times, I knew in my heart that my baby would turn two times!”