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Mission Possible

If Hashem had placed me in Hackensack Hospital for a Shabbos, He had a mission for me to accomplish


On Wednesday, October 21, I exited Hackensack Hospital after visiting a congregant.

The next day, Thursday, my formerly minor back pains became significant, and I was off to the doctor’s office.

The doctor directed my daughter to bring me immediately to the emergency room.

As we approached the ER, a nurse said, “Due to COVID, no one can stay with a patient in the ER. Don’t worry, your father will be fine.”

Those were the last words I heard as I entered the hectic and frenetic world of the emergency room.

Between pain medication and exhaustion, I cannot fully recall the events of that night. I recall being brought to the MRI room and being packed into a missile launcher tube and subjected to the sounds of construction workers pounding away with jackhammers for the better part of an hour.

On Friday morning, I woke to find three people staring at me.

“Good morning, Mr. Eisenman,” said one of them, “my name is Dr. Ploni. Your MRI results show that you are suffering from spinal disc herniation. You are scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at seven thirty.”

An hour later, I was brought to my room. I introduced myself to my roommate, and he told me his name was Larry.

Due to COVID restrictions, my family could not spend Shabbos with me. As the sun began to set and Shabbos was beginning, a feeling of loneliness enveloped me. I pushed away my feelings of self-pity and decided that if Hashem had placed me in Hackensack Hospital for a Shabbos, He had a mission for me to accomplish.

As far as I knew, I was the lone Jew on this planet, as, in my four cubits, I was the only identifiable Jew.

After bentshing, I noticed the nurse pause for a moment to look at the television monitor above Larry’s bed.

I tried not to listen or look. However, the yetzer hara got the better of me. I saw Jewish-looking people on the screen, and I heard the words “ultra-Orthodox” repeated several times. As the nurse moved away from the screen, she was shaking her head.

It was then I realized what my mission was for this Shabbos.

When she came in a few minutes later, I thanked her and all the nurses for their professionalism and compassionate care.

At six on Shabbos morning, when they were bringing me to the operating room, I made sure to thank the orderlies and ask them their names.

We entered the OR, and as the anesthesiologist placed the mask over my mouth, I forced myself to chap one more thank-you.

When I woke up in the recovery room, the nurse said, “We’ll get you to your room as fast as we can.”

I quickly answered, “No, please take care of the other patients first. I’m in no rush. Today is a day of rest, and the longer you let me rest, the more appreciative I am!”

Throughout the rest of Shabbos and Sunday, I was careful to appreciate everyone.

Before “transport” brought me down to go home on Sunday, I asked to stop at the nurses station to thank everyone.

On Sunday evening, my wife said, “Listen to this message on our answering machine.”

“Hello, Mrs. Eisenman, this is Mrs. Brocha. I work in the billing department of the hospital. I had to call to tell you that Veronica, the nurse who cared for your husband on Friday evening, came to see me today. She told me how wonderful your husband was and how he always called everyone by name, and it made a wonderful impression on her and the entire staff. I knew you would get nachas from this as your husband made a real kiddush Hashem.”

Mission accomplished.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 835)

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