I called my cousin Rivka on Thursday. I worry about her, I miss her; I wanted to know how she was doing. Hearing that her best friend (Tehilla bas Bracha) and half her family were in a terrible car accident didn't put her in the best of moods obviously. Hearing that her best friend had some kind of brain damage (lo aleinu) didn't really help either. I haven't spoken to them since I came to Eretz Yisrael, and I worried. I'm still worrying, but at least I spoke to Rivka.
She said she's doing ok; she's been better. She then told me what happened. I had heard just that the car flipped over a bunch of times, and Tehilla and Refa'el Dovid were the most seriously injured, Aviva Rochel and R' Elazar Yitzchak were let out that night or something, Elisha and Eliyahu Chayyim a week later I think, and for the most part are doing well (if I remember correctly).
They were at a farm owned by one of the Jewish families there an hour and a half away from St Louis. One of their girls, Liz, and is friends with Tehilla and Rivka. It was Chol Hamo'ed, some family thing, fun times. As it was getting later, it got cold and rainy and icky outside, some of the family left early. The Rebbetzin left with I think 2 or 3 kids, and one of them slept over at the farm. And then the Rabbi with the rest of the kids (mentioned above) left. Around 10 minutes later, Liz picks up a ringing phone, and someone asks if they're alright.
Liz: Yeah why?
Guy on the phone: Oh, there was an accident on the edge of your property (ed. note -- Rivka told me accidents happen all the time, one of these country dirts roads not nice in the rain), just wanted to make sure you're ok.
Liz: Oh, thanks, we're ok.
Guy: Oh. Well...they're wearing yarmulkas.
Rivka told me she let out such a scream. She drove there, and couldn't believe that people got out alive. The van was all messed up, pieces of it here and there. Ambulances came and brought everyone to hospitals. What happened was Aviva was making a left, and on the oncoming car didn't stop for her...and slammed right into them.
Tehilla and Refa'el Dovid (Refa'el was added around a week later I think) have some brain damage. Tehilla at first was in a coma, not really responsive; she started squeezing hands. When the doctor told them aboiut the MRI, it wasn't good news. 3 days later, Thank God, she was talking, moving around somewhat. The doctor came in and said, "this can't be the same girl I saw 3 days ago. It just can't." The part of her brain that got damaged was her memories, personality, coordination (I think), and other stuff. She has no idea where she is sometimes. She thinks she's in Israel with 20 siblings (she really has 10), 30 cousins (really has around 14). Rivka said it's the hardest when Tehilla doesn't even recognize her. Sometimes she does fully, sometimes not her face but that there is a Rivka, sometimes her face but not that there is a Rivka.
Sometimes they correct her...
Rivka: What high school do you go to?
Tehilla: B'nei Akiva.Rivka: Uh, try Beis Ya'akov. How many people in your school?
Rivka: Uh, try 40...
...and sometime they don't.
Rivka *on the phone*: Tehilla I'm going to come visit you tomorrow.
Tehilla: In Israel?
Rivka: No, St Louis.
Tehilla: St Louis is in Israel?
Tehilla: Well, I'm leaving the hospital tomorrow, I'm going [somewhere].
Rivka: Well, wherever you are, I'll find you.
She was moved to a childrens rehab hospital last week. We just have to keep davening for a full recovery -- or as full as possible.
Eliyahu Chayyim I think it was, was up and saw the entire collision. Saw everything. Including her little 7-year-old brother Refa'el Dovid fly through the windshield. Apparently the only thing he got was brain damage, on his body he got nothing, no cuts, bruises, etc., just brain damage. I think they're keeping him in a medically-induced coma, but not positive. He has been responding and opening his eyes (I guess not in a coma...?). Since he's so young, the doctors said it's a possibility that the other side of his brain can completely compensate for the damage, and he will be fine. We just gotta keep davening.
Aviva, Elisha and Eliyahu Chayyim are doing well. Going back for checkups. "Aviva is basically back in full swing," father Rabbi Elazar Yitzchak said.
I was spaced out for awhile after I hung up with Rivka. Just being thankful to HaShem that I have my health, friends and family, and for overal my situation right now. I couldn't ask for better.
I heard a beauitful vort Friday night at the tisch of R' Birnbaum at KBY, where I was for Shabbos. The Midrash brings 3 ways to explain why nisyonos (tests) only happen to tzaddkim, and not resha'im:
1. Let's say you are selling flax (to be made into linen), and you want to show potential customers how good yours are, you're going to hit the best ones, to show off, to make them better.
2. Now you're selling jugs and pitchers (not baseball ones). To show off how good your jugs are, you hit the ones with the best sound, the strongest ones, so they won't break--obviously you're don't want to break them while showing them off, so you hit the best ones.
3. You have 2 oxen to do some work in your field with, a really old, weak one, and a young, strong one. What, you're going to do this work with your weak one, who might possibly die in the middle?
HaShem only gives tzaddikim nisyonos. Why? 1) It makes them better. Because they passed a certain test, they are a better person because of it. 2) HaShem wants to show you off to the world. 3) What, the resha'im are going to carry this world? I don't think so.
HaShem didn't need to test Avraham at the Akeidah, He knew he would pass. He wanted Avraham to see it and know it too. And he took in all the lessons from it, and became an even better person than he already was.
If you have nisyonos, just remember -- it means you're a tzaddik; you must be doing something right.