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Every Moment a Miracle

Eliezer Shulman

Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, 103, has again defied the medical community with a top medical team, but more than that, through the heartfelt prayers of a nation

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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MODERN MIRACLES On one hand, the ICU seems to be one huge concentration of pain, as families wait around nervously, hoping and praying for miracles to keep their loved ones alive. But it’s also a place where a medical wonder is taking place day after day: Rav Steinman, the light of the Torah world, continues to defy statistics and predictions. Here, behind his curtain, medical tomes are closed (Photos: Yisroel Brooks, Flash90)

D awn broke through the large windows of the intensive care unit at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak. Behind the closed door in one of the private ICU rooms, HaRav Aharon Yehudah Leib (ben Faiga Gittel) Steinman — the 103-year-old Rosh Yeshivah for whom thousands are praying fervently — continued to breathe on his own.

Near the room, his confidants are keeping vigil — grandson Rabbi David Shapiro, Rabbi Elimelech Firer and Rabbi Eliezer Kaplan of Ezra Umarpeh, and talmidim Rabbi Isser Shub, Rabbi Yaakov Rosenstein, and Rabbi Yitzchak (Itche) Rosengarten. Rav Steinman’s children are still sitting shivah for their sister, Rebbetzin Rachel Devorah Berlin a”h, who suddenly passed away last Wednesday — although they come, too, taking off their mourning clothes before entering to see how their father is faring.

The monotonous humming of machines is routine here on the fourth floor. On one hand, the ICU seems to be one huge concentration of pain, as families wait around nervously, hoping and praying for miracles to keep their loved ones alive. But it’s also a place where a medical wonder is taking place day after day: Rav Steinman, the light of the Torah world, continues to defy statistics and predictions. Here, behind his curtain, medical tomes are closed.

The entire department is aware of the miracle unfolding within. ICU Director Professor Eliyahu Sorkin, head of the team treating the Rosh Yeshivah, decided to stay in Eretz Yisrael even though he was summoned to the US to assist another ailing rebbe. And Dr. Avraham Weinberger, Rav Steinman’s personal physician, is at his bedside constantly, monitoring his condition.

It’s certainly not the first time the Rosh Yeshivah has been hospitalized — he was hospitalized several times over the past year, each time defying common medical wisdom. At the beginning of November he was again hospitalized, but then released.

Rabbi Shraga Steinman, Rosh Yeshivas Kehillas Yaakov (L), visits his father on the way back from his sister’s funeral.

Now, however, anyone who has seen the gadol in his diligence would surely be heartbroken to see the suffering that is afflicting him and preventing him from delving into the only thing he values in life.

Every so often, Rav Steinman opens his eyes, aware of where he is and seeming to comprehend as the doctors update him on his condition. Each morning, tefillin is laid on his head and arm, and the Rosh Yeshivah has been able to recite Krias Shema in a whisper. While we were there, one of his grandchildren sat at his bedside perusing a sefer. “What are you learning?” Rav Steinman asked his grandson, who briefly described the sugya. The Rosh Yeshivah listened and smiled.

The family notes that whenever he wakes up, he asks to hear divrei Torah. When he has energy, they are about sugyos in Shas. When he is weaker, they read Mishnayos or Chumash out to him. Sometimes he asks to hear halachah. When Professor Sorkin asked the Rosh Yeshivah not to exert himself with learning, a shadow of sadness crossed the Rosh Yeshivah’s face, compounding his suffering. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 687)

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