Shimon and Michal Gross
Shimon and Michal GrossIsrael news photo: Flash 90

One of two young brothers hospitalized in serious condition after being poisoned in his Jerusalem home has opened his eyes, Rabbi David Lau, the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, reported Thursday.

The six members of the Gross family in Jerusalem were made seriously ill by a pesticide left in their apartment by an exterminator. The highly toxic pesticide contained phosphine – an agent used in chemical weapons.

The poison killed the family’s two youngest children, 4-year-old Avigayil and 2-year-old Yael. The two older children were left comatose, in critical condition; doctors were forced to use advanced technology to temporarily replace the function of their hearts and lungs.

Recently doctors reported that both brothers had been removed from the machines that were replacing their hearts’ function. Now, Rabbi Lau says, both brothers have regained consciousness for a period of time and have shown awareness of their surroundings.

Rabbi Lau relayed the news during a prayer session at Yeshivat Noam in Jerusalem. He recalled visiting the family in the hospital, and said that 7-year-old Chaim Michael Shlomo had opened his eyes for the first time since the poisoning.

“He could not speak because of the tube in his throat, but he managed to point at the letters,” Rabbi Lau said. After that, doctors put Michael back in a medically induced coma, he said.

The younger of the two brothers, five-year-old Raphael Yitzchak Isaac, previously woke up and reportedly managed to speak to his parents.

Rabbi Lau warned that despite the improvement in the two boys’ condition, they are still in danger. He urged the public to pray in order to arouse heavenly mercy on their behalf.

Rabbi Lau also spoke about meeting parents Shimon and Michal Gross. “I met strong parents who know that the entire nation of Israel is praying for their children,” he said.