Even a Banana Can Be a Miracle
A few years ago a Rabbi’s wife and their son had to go to Germany. The
little boy was ill and the only appropriate treatment for his very unusual
illness was to be found in a hospital in Germany. Mrs. Mandelson, being a
survivor of the Holocaust, was not thrilled about going to Germany. However, it
was the wisest decision, as her son’s health came above all else.
Together mom and Yakov took the long, transatlantic, overnight flight, the bus
ride to the hospital, and handled the complicated admitting process. Finally,
fatigued, they settled into a hospital room for the son, which also contained a
cot for mother.
A couple of days passed relatively uneventfully except for some preliminary
tests and consultations. Now it was Friday, several hours before Shabbos. At
home in Borough Park, Ruth would have been busily preparing for Shabbos. That
morning she would have gotten up early to bake her own fresh challah. She would
have worked to the stores early to find the best vegetables and fruits. All
afternoon she would have cooked and cleaned until the house smelled delicious
Now, two hours before Shabbos, she was alone in a strange land that held certain
haunting memories for her. She and Yakov had little to look forward to on
Shabbos except the small bundle of goodies that she had brought with them.
Thankfully, she had a little challah left over from last week. She had a special
bottle of grape juice that her son loved and some other treats to round out the
otherwise bland kosher food ordered for them in the hospital. It was minimal,
but would have to do.
Yakov was feeling somewhat down this Friday, himself. At ten he was perfectly
aware that his health was not good and of course he was keenly aware that he was
lonely, away from his friends, brothers and sisters, and also in a sterile
hospital setting. As the late afternoon shadows crossed their room his mood was
quickly deteriorating. He was becoming blue.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he said to his mommy, "I hate being here.
We’re so alone. We have nothing to look forward to. We’re all alone. This
will be the worst Shabbos."
Ruth tried to offset his blues by telling him, "No, we’re never alone.
God is always with us. We have each other. I have some goodies that we will have
later on Shabbos. And I'll tell you stories. Don't worry, we’ll have
But her mood was also quickly declining as much as she tried to stay optimistic
and buoyant. To top it off, as they were standing in the corridor, waiting for
the elevator back to their room to shower and change for Shabbos, she suddenly
remembered that she had not taken her potassium in several days.
In fact, perhaps that was part of the reason why she was feeling off. She really
needed potassium and now had no way of getting it on Shabbos. She was thinking
to herself that even a banana would be helpful. But it was off-season for
bananas. She hadn’t seen any bananas on the hospital trays since they arrived.
Now, there was no time to go outside and shop. This was awful. They had only 40
minutes to Shabbos. These anxiety-provoking thoughts filled her brain as Yakov
stood next to her. He looked so sad himself, kicking his little foot against the
wall in a kind of random act of wasted motion as they waited for the elevator.
She wondered how in the world she could stay buoyant enough for both of them.
They both noticed a family going by, a father, mother and three children all
holding hands. That was the last straw as Yakov looked at the family,
particularly his eyes, filled with tears, focused on the father.
"I miss my daddy so much. I am miserable."
Ruth felt she was going to cry also. She admitted to herself that she was
miserable and began to have some dark thoughts as to whether it was worth coming
to Germany for the treatment.
They seemed to wait a very long time by the elevator. Finally the elevator
arrived and the doors opened. No one else was in the elevator. But in the far
left corner on the floor, Ruth was astonished to see a perfectly ripe, juicy,
delicious looking banana lying there.
"Wow," she said to herself, "I guess I can have my potassium
She swooped down and picked up the banana. Then the marvel of the moment came
together for her.
* This is based on a true story. However, I took the liberty, after hearing the
facts once, to augment and dramatize the story in my own fashion. I hope my
story is in the spirit on the true small miracle that happened.
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