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Impressions: Chance of a Lifetime

Zev Singer

When Scott Woodrow heard the call, he couldn’t say no

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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Scott wondered why this particular passage, among all the Torah’s dramatic sections, so moved him. After all, his own life had been sedate compared to the turmoil of Yosef’s. He struggled to understand it, but failed (Photos: Nechama Laitman Photography)

A little boy was in need of a liver transplant and Scott Woodrow stood ready to save him.

It was a typical leil Shabbos evening three years ago. After davening, the gabbai ascended the bimah and announced that someone in the community needed an immediate liver transplant. Scott couldn’t be sure at that moment, but he had an inkling the person in need was Aryeh, the son of a rabbi at a neighboring shul.

For several years, Aryeh’s parents had been searching in vain for a cure for their boy’s disease. They had consulted doctors, conferred with gedolim b’ Torah, and davened constantly. Their son’s illness had gone through a long series of twists and turns and life-and-death decisions. Finally, the doctors told the rabbi and rebbetzin that Aryeh needed a new transplant.

Scott went home after shul and talked about the case with his family. The gabbai had said that the donor need only be healthy, have a Body Mass Index of less than 25, and possess the right blood type. Growing up in a home with a father who gave blood regularly, Scott already knew his blood type: He was an “O,” a universal donor.

Scott prides himself on his zrizus, the quality of running to accomplish a mitzvah. The very next day, he called the organization in charge of the transplant, and first thing Monday morning he hurried to deliver the donor application to the hospital. As he walked there, he felt a sense of urgency with each step.

He knew that being approved as a donor is a multi-step process, so he told the hospital staff that he was ready for a test at a moment’s notice. “Don’t worry about scheduling,” he told them, as his office was around the corner. “If there’s an opening, I’ll come in and do it.” Like a businessman pursuing an ambitious deal, Scott wanted to be the first person to perform this particular mitzvah. In the end, his zrizus paid off. Before too long, he found out that he would be donating part of his liver to Aryeh, the rabbi’s son.

On a Search

Scott grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia in a non-observant home. The family knew that they had at least one famous ancestor, the Maggid of Mezeritch — but that was all in the past. His parents were loving and supportive and his home life was stable. But something inside him was stirring.

A contemplative person by nature, when Scott was 16 he began reading books in his quest for purpose and meaning. He chose something from the classics, Homer’s Odyssey, and read a book on Taoism. And then there were a couple of Jewish books: a Chumash with an English translation, and Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s The Living Torah. Every night before bed, he’d take one of these books off the shelf and peruse a line or section that might light a spark.

On one particular night, he happened to take the Chumash off the shelf and opened it to the story of Yosef and his brothers. When he arrived at the passage where Yosef, now viceroy of Egypt, reveals himself to his brothers, 16-year-old Scott Woodrow began to cry. And not just a whimper. He began to cry uncontrollably and Scott couldn’t understand why. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 690)

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