By Menachem Ziegelboim
Rabbi Tomer is a distinguished rav in Ramle. He
recounted this story with a pronounced Sephardic pronunciation, while constantly
repeating words of praise and thanks to Hashem.
"It was a week after Chanuka 5760, and three Jews and I
decided to visit the kivros tzaddikim in the Ukraine, to daven at
the kvarim of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, Rabbi Levi
Yitzchok of Berditchev, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, and other tzaddikim.
"It wasnít easy traveling in the Ukraine. We experienced hard
times but we overcame them all. One morning we went on a tour with a local
driver whom we had hired for this purpose. It was four of us, Shlomo Edery, Ezra
Degaga, Ovadia Tomer (my brother), and myself.
"We traveled for hours from one tziyun to another, and
in each place we beseeched Hashem for His mercies. At 1:30 A.M. we arrived in
Haditch, a tiny village, which we could barely make out in the complete
"We were getting out of the car to go to the holy tziyun
when we noticed that Ezra had not exited the car. We asked him why he didnít get
out, and he said he was too tired and he had no strength to go down the
hillside. We could understand his feelings, as the cold was bone-chilling,
several degrees below zero, there was a strong wind, darkness, and a steep
downward climb. He also complained that his feet hurt, ĎGo down and daven
for yourselves and for me, too,í he asked us.
"We refused to leave him behind. We didnít want him to stay
alone in the car with a stranger in a strange place, and after all - we had
finally gotten to this holy place and we didnít want him to miss the
opportunity. We just couldnít leave him.
"After much pleading, Ezra finally agreed to go with us. We
saw that it was really mesirus nefesh on his part. We went down the hill,
and when we got inside we lit candles and began to daven with great
"As we were davening, I heard the sound of something
falling behind me. I quickly turned around and saw Ezra on the ground making
some kind of gargling sound. I knew Ezra had a sense of humor and I thought he
was joking around. I said, ĎEzra, this is a holy place. Itís not a place for
jokes,í but he didnít answer me. Thatís when we realized something terrible had
happened. Ezra was white and he continued to make that noise, and he frothed at
the mouth. He finally took a deep breath and was utterly silent.
"In my life I had already seen a goses, a person in
his final moments of life. I knew this was it! We had lost him right before our
"Our thoughts raced furiously. I thought, what happened? How
did he suddenly die? How will we bring him back home? What will we tell his
wife? How will I be able to look his children in the eye? All these thoughts ran
through my mind.
"None of us was a doctor, and we didnít know C.P.R. We stood
there helplessly as the cold of two in the morning got even colder. A strange
place, darkness. We just stood there.
"Instinctively I turned towards the tziyun and
prostrated myself on it and burst out with, "Rebbe! I ask and plead for Ezra
Degaga. We came here to you, to a great tzaddik, as four live Jews. We
came to daven at your kever, and we ask and plead that you do a
miracle so that we four Jews can walk out of here, also in the zíchus of
the Tanya we learned.
"I prayed from the depths of my heart, and after a short time
I heard a sound behind me. I turned around and saw Ezra opening his eyes. The
others quickly poured water on him to revive him a bit. Within a few minutes he
was even able to get up.
"The whole thing took ten minutes, but it took much longer
for us to recover. The driver came down to see what had happened to us. We all
turned to R. Shneur Zalman and thanked and praised Hashem and His loyal servant,
the great tzaddik.
"When we returned to Eretz Yisroel a day later, we told our
friends about the great miracle that had happened to Ezra. They all looked at
him as a walking miracle.
"We merited a miracle in the great zíchus of the
tzaddik, the Baal HaTanya."