It is rare, at times like this, to begin the week—yet another week in the shadow of the coronavirus—on a note of joy and excitement. The crisis persists, and with it, heartrending stories of people lost, as well as of loneliness, of challenges to livelihood and of worries about what yet awaits us.
But it is precisely at such moments that the heart looks to the small stories, of individuals. And it is on one such story that I would like to embark—a story that heartens me in these dark days.
It is the story of Eli Beer, an esteemed friend of Sheldon and mine renowned for the fact that, at the age of 16, he founded United Hatzalah, a free, volunteer-based emergency medical-services organization based in Jerusalem, Israel, which he continues to run to this very day. Alas, Eli contracted the coronavirus during a visit to the United States and, last month, at the height of the attendant COVID-19 disease, his condition deteriorated and he was sedated and placed on a ventilator at a Miami hospital.
Three days ago, Eli’s condition improved. He was taken off the ventilator and, with God’s help, is on the path to a full recovery.
A person’s convalescence is in itself excellent news. But here it is fitting to invoke the axiom of the Jewish sages, which holds that every life is a world unto itself, for Eli is, to the fullest, the realization of this—a world unto himself who has been brought back to life and to us.
The video statement that Eli left before he was sedated is unforgettable. Rather than brood on his personal horizon, which seemed especially forbidding, he preferred, with characteristic gallantry, to urge those watching to do good deeds and support United Hatzalah, which at this difficult period is doing sacred work as part of the Israeli health system.
The miracle that Eli wrought in the lives of so many has been repaid upon him, reviving him and redoubling his opportunity to keep doing good for all of humanity.
We should be mindful of the miracles happening now, draw strength from them and to ask what we want to take with us from this experience. Even as multitudes contract this disease, a growing number are healed. For all the panic and suffering, people are coping impressively, coming up with scientific responses and coming together as communities.
Thinking of Eli, I am encouraged and begin this week with the words that are usually sung at the onset of Shabbat as part of “Come Out, My Beloved” (“Lecha Dodi”), and which were originally meant to rouse a downcast Zion:
“Arise, go out from amid the upheaval.
You have spent too long in the vale of tears,
And He will show you the compassion He has felt.
Arise and shake off the dust,
Don your robes of glory, my nation …
Wake up! Wake up!
For your light has arrived. Rise and shine! Sing a melody!
The glory of God is revealed unto you.”
Dr. Miriam Adelson is the publisher of Israel Hayom. The Adelson family owns the company that is the primary shareholder in Israel Hayom.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.