As we turned a corner, I went flying off the buggy, landing facedown on the rough asphalt, right in the buggy’s path
MY name is Akiva. I live in Eretz Yisrael.
When I was eight years old, my siblings and I finally convinced our parents to let us rent buggies (see picture) for an hour one Erev Shabbos. I was so excited! We went by ourselves, which was very unusual, but my mother wasn’t feeling well and my father was working, so off we went, with my older brother Eli in charge.
It was so much fun to drive the buggy; I could have done it forever. My big brother let me go first, but eventually he also wanted a turn. Because there was only one seat in our buggy, and because I was loathe to miss out on any fun, I didn’t want to wait my turn. So, I made a big mistake. I settled myself on the front of the buggy (where you’re definitely not supposed to sit) as Eli, my big brother, started to drive.
We drove for just a few minutes. We started going faster and faster. Then, as we turned a corner, I went flying off the buggy, landing facedown on the rough asphalt, right in the buggy’s path.
The buggy kept moving automatically. It hit me and started to run over me, but my brother managed to backpedal, and the buggy eased off my body.
I lay stunned on the ground, not quite sure what was going on. Eli leaped off the buggy and raced to my side. There was blood everywhere. “Akiva, are you okay? What happened? Oh, no!” Eli raced to the nearest house, which was the Leibowitzes, a family we hardly knew, to call for help. In the meantime, my big sister Chaya’le, who had been watching, came running over. She asked me if I could stand, and I did, and that is when I suddenly noticed that I’d lost a tooth. My tongue was touching empty space where there should have been a tooth.
Chaya’le found my tooth and helped me walk over to the Leibowitzes’ house, where Eli was. My stomach was killing me, my elbows were stinging, and there was a sharp pain in my mouth. Mrs. Leibowitz hurried me into the house and brought me to the sink to wash my face. My sister gave her my tooth. Mrs. Leibowitz called my father. He came a few minutes later. One of the older Leibowitz boys drove my father and me to a nearby emergency clinic in the city.
When we got to Terem, the emergency clinic, they demanded that we wear a mask because they were still concerned about Covid. We didn’t have masks and we didn’t know what to do. A kind lady gave us two masks from her bag and we went into Terem. My mouth was hurting less, but my stomach was still really hurting — when I had gone flying off the buggy I had landed on my stomach. After they checked me, they decided to call an ambulance because they were very worried that I had internal damage (that is, that something inside my stomach had been badly hurt). My mother rushed over with some things for us to take for Shabbos, and after a wait, the ambulance came. My father and I climbed in and they strapped me into the ambulance. Every now and then the driver turned on the sirens. It would have been more exciting if my stomach wasn’t causing me so much pain. The driver spoke to me and asked me riddles from the parshah, which was nice of him because it distracted me.
When we got to the hospital it was almost Shabbos. The ambulance driver helped us get checked in and then rushed back to the ambulance to try and get back before Shabbos. In the meantime, a doctor checked me and then sent me for a whole bunch of tests.
First, they did an ultrasound on my stomach. They rubbed cold gel all over my stomach and used a wand which was connected to a screen to see what was inside. I watched the screen, but I couldn’t see anything, just fuzzy gray images. Also, because all the skin on my stomach had been scraped off, the whole procedure was very uncomfortable.
After the ultrasound, we were taken back to wait in the emergency room. After waiting for a bit, my father decided to go to a quieter room at the end of the hallway to daven Minchah and Kabbalas Shabbos. A moment after he left, a nurse showed up and asked me where he was. I told her that he went to daven. She said she’d come back when he was done, and after she tried twice, the third time he was back. In the meantime, I read a book that my mother had packed for me. At least I like to read! The pain was lessening anyway, but it was scary to see my red stomach, with a whole layer of skin peeled off it.
After the medical staff decided that my stomach was alright, which was a big relief, they started worrying about my tooth. They were upset that we hadn’t put the tooth in milk, because now they weren’t sure that they could put it back. But they decided to try to reinsert it anyway. I was given a special medicine to make me sleepy and relaxed as they tried to put my tooth back in. When I woke up, I heard someone telling my father that there was only a five percent chance of the tooth healing. That meant that there was a very big chance that the root would die and I would need a fake tooth implanted.
I didn’t feel so well when I woke up. I was woozy and it was hard to walk because I was dizzy. My father helped me change into Shabbos clothes, and after a while I felt better. I tried to eat the hospital Shabbos food on the tray when they brought it to me, but it was painful. It didn’t taste bad, but I couldn’t really eat because my mouth hurt. Volunteers came around with cakes and cookies, and I was able to eat a soft piece of chocolate cake. The hospital gave us a room for the night, and we tried to sleep. My elbows had just been scraped, my stomach ended up being fine, and my tooth ended up being the biggest problem. It was a big neis, because I could have been injured much more seriously.
On Shabbos morning, I was allowed to go home, but it was Shabbos, so we stayed. My father and I learned a lot together. I finished the book I had brought. It was still hard to eat, and my stomach was still sore, especially when I had to stand or walk. It was a long Shabbos, but my father and I tried to keep each other busy, my father told me stories, and we walked around the hospital a bit, as much as I could. Honestly, I just wanted to go home.
After Shabbos, someone who lives near the hospital invited us for Havdalah at his house. At long last, we finally headed home to tell everyone what had happened.
The next day, my father told us that the gematria of “shen,” tooth, is 350. My parents donated 350 shekels to Mishmeres Halashon (like the Israeli Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation). And then my father said that as appreciation to Hashem for the big neis – that I’d gone flying off a moving buggy, landed on my stomach, almost been run over, and had only lost a tooth — our family would learn hilchos shemiras halashon every day.
I guess the two biggest lessons I learned were: Stay safe. Don’t sit where you’re not supposed to sit. And also, how what a gift it is that every part of your body is healthy and whole. Even a little tooth makes a big difference. Learning the halachos of shemiras halashon helps me stay focused on using my mouth to try and say only good things.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 936)
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