The miracle of Itai and Ephraim Rimmel

G-d sent the best of His angels to descend from on high and help the wonderful doctors at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital.

Rabbi Amichai Gordin ,

Itai Rimmel
Itai Rimmel

The funeral of Tzippy Rimmel and her three month old infant daughter, Noam Rachel, was one of the most painful events I have ever attended.

When one of those eulogizing them asked the participants to join her in singing Happy Birthday to Tzippy's son Itai, many of them felt uncomfortable about it. Itai was in critical condition in the hospital and no one on the medical staff had hopes for his survival. The song seemed delusional, unconnected to reality.

Up in the heavens, however, they thought differently. The Creator rose from His throne and listened carefully to that song, as well as to all the thousands of prayers added to it, and sent his best angels to descend from on high and help he wonderful doctors at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital.

The day of the funeral a senior physician explained that Itai's condition was terminal: "We are fighting, but it is a matter of hours." Two days later, after consultations with medical experts as well as rabbinic authorities on the issue, the terrible decision to define Itai as a "patient who is about to die" was made, meaning that it is forbidden to touch him at all, let alone operate on him.

The head of the relevant department in the Chicago hospital who was consulted, wrote that "reading the medical reports sent to me, there is no rational explanation for the fact that they - Itai and his father Ephraim - are still alive."

But Itai and Ephraim are with us, and continue to fight for their lives and health When Ephraim was released from the hospital four months ago, Professor Ofer Marin, Head of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, said: "I do not recall anyone who suffered a similarly terrible tragedy and dealt with it in this way. Something from within you radiated the strength to find a positive way to emerge from this pain. I must admit that we did not expect to see you sitting here with us, nor did we imagine that Itai would go from critical to stable condition."

Even then, after the miracle that Ephraim experienced, no one believed that Itai would regain consciousness and be able to function. A senior neurologist who examined him said that he has no idea what is happening within his head, because he is not responding to any stimuli. "Besides the fact that he is alive, I cannot say anything about his brain function." He said sadly.

The doctors continued their dedicated efforts, the angels continued breaking the laws of nature, one after another. And one fine day, Itai opened his eyes and regained consciousness, and this week, flying in the face of all logic, Itai was released from the hospital to begin the long process of rehabilitation.

And despite the miracles with which they have been rewarded, that is not enough for us. We need more miracles to see them both functioning at an optimal level. We have learned that prayers do bring results, so we will continue our supplications to the G-d of mercy for Ephraim Tzvi Moshe ben Shulamit Tsvia and for Itai Yaakov ben Tzipporah. May He have mercy upon them.

We recited the blessings on bad tidings, as our eyes filled with tears. Now it is time for those tears to fall in gratitude for good tidings – Shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigianu lazman hazeh –"He who has given us life and sustained us so that we have reached this day" and add "This is the day Hashem has wrought, we will rejoice and be glad."

34-year-old Tzipi Rimmel and her three-week-old daughter, Noam Rachel, were killed in a massive traffic accident on Route 443 in December 2019, when an 18 year old Arab driver speeding at over 100 mph hit them head on. The crash also left Rimmel’s husband, Efraim, and her son, Itai, seriously injured.

Rav Gordin taught at the Netiv Meir and Sha'alabim yeshiva high schools, serving at the latter also as deputy Rosh Yeshiva for two years. Together with his fellow students from Yeshivat Har Etzion, Rav Chaimi Navon and Rav Shimoni Garti, he led the project of publishing Shiurei Harav Lichtenstein. In 2007 he joined the Yeshivat Har Etzion staff, and currently teaches 2nd year (shana bet) students.