A Life for a Life
Yoni, an Israeli Defense Force soldier stationed in Hebron, was shot by an Arab terrorist. It happened very early in the morning, and no one else was awake to hear it. Yoni passed out and was bleeding steadily, his life heading toward a silent end.
But another soldier stationed nearby heard the shot and went to investigate. He found a fellow Israeli soldier bleeding to death. He tried the best he could to stop the bleeding and called for help. Waiting for help to arrive, he kept applying pressure to the wound--literally holding Yoni's life in his hands.
Yoni was taken to a hospital in Be'er Sheva where he underwent surgery. Yoni's parents were notified and they rushed to the hospital. Imagine the fear of the parents who were only told "your son has been injured and is in the hospital." When they arrived the doctor told them that Yoni was shot but will be alright. However, had it not been for the immediate actions of the other soldier, their son Yoni would have bled to death.
It was a miracle that the other soldier heard what no one else heard, and managed to locate Yoni as quickly as he did. The parents wanted to thank that soldier, but he had just left the hospital after hearing that the soldier he helped would survive.
While recuperating at home, Yoni and his parents called the army to find out the name of the other soldier so they could thank him personally. Unfortunately, that soldier's name was not recorded and although they tried to ask around they simply couldn't track down who that other soldier was.
Yoni's mother knew that the important thing of course is that Yoni is well, yet she could not help feeling that as long as she couldn't meet and thank the solider who bravely saved her son's life--the entire frightening episode would not be fully over. Not being able to thank the soldier continued to give her an empty feeling…but then she had an idea.
The couple owned a grocery store in Kiryat Malachi (a town near Ashdod), so they decided to put up a sign in the store, describing what happened, figuring that Israel is a small country and eventually they might found out who the mystery soldier was.
Months passed with no response. Finally, one morning about a year later, a woman customer noticed the sign hanging by the door of the store. She recalled how happy her son Yair was when he came home one Friday night and told them how he heard a shot and was able to save another soldier's life in Hebron. She went back and told the owner of the store. The story matched. The two women now decided to try to reach their sons on cell phones and see if they could meet at the store. Fortunately it turned out that both the young men and even the fathers were able to all meet that afternoon at the store.
The families soon gathered for an emotional "rendezvous". The soldiers recounted army experiences and finally after all this time Yoni's mother could stand up and thank Yair for saving her son's life or as she put it, "You saved my world". She looked forward to feeling "completion" after all this time by thanking the soldier, but little did she know that the story was hardly complete.
After the tearful thank you, Yair's mother quietly pulled her aside and asked to speak with her outside. The two women went out alone. And she asked Yoni's mother: "Look at me-- don't you remember me?"
"No, I'm sorry did we meet before?"
"Yes," Yair's mother replied. "You see there is a particular reason I came into your store today. I used to live here, and this time although I was just passing by, I wanted to give you my business, even though I was only buying a few things."
"What are you talking about?" Yoni's mother asked.
The other woman answered, "Twenty years ago I used to live around here and came all the time to buy milk and bread. One day you noticed that I looked really down and you were very nice and asked me why I seemed so down and I confided in you. I told you that I was going through a very difficult time and on top of that I was pregnant and planning on having an abortion. As soon as I said "abortion" you called your husband over and the two of you seemed to forget about your own store and business, and just sat down and patiently listened to me. I still remember clearly what you said.
"You told me that it is true that I was going through a hard time but sometimes the good things in life come through difficulty, and the best things come through the biggest difficulties. You spoke of the joy of being a mother and that the most beautiful word to hear in the Hebrew language is "Ima" (mother) when spoken by one's child. You both spoke and spoke until I was convinced that I actually should have this baby--so you see G-d paid you back!"
"What do you mean?" asked Yoni's mother. The answer astounded and thrilled her.
"I had a boy twenty years ago that you saved by telling me to think twice before doing the abortion." With happy tears she declared, "My beloved Yair wouldn't have been alive if not for you. He was the one you were looking for. He was the one who grew up to save your son Yoni's life!"
Note: This incredible story is true. The actual names are on file.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from friendsofefrat.org, the website of a wonderful organization, EFRAT, that dedicatedly (and non-violently!) works to prevent abortions by Jewish mothers in Israel, through counseling and financial incentives.
Connection: Seasonal (Memorial/Independence Days)