I witnessed a miracle yesterday. It might not sound like a miracle but it felt like one.

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Shabbos, 7 February 2014, was the 14th anniversary (English date) of one of the ‘heaviest’ days of my, and my family’s, lives: I almost died on 7 February 2001. 

I’m not going to go into the full details of that, not in this blog*.

I was ill before 7 February 2001 and at around midnight on the 7th, I went into cardiac arrest (I did NOT have a heart attack, my heart ‘just’ stopped). Thank G-d I was in hospital when it happened! That incident is never far from my mind but it’s at the forefront of my mind in the first week of February every year. 

Now for an admission:

I used to put Tefillin on every day but that habit fell by the wayside a few months ago. On Shabbos, I was thinking that I should put Tefillin on on Sunday, yesterday morning, to mark the ‘anniversary’, to thank H’’M but I didn’t know if I would, if I’d overcome my laziness.

Another reason I wanted to put on Tefillin: a good friend of mine is very ill. I looked at my emails after Shabbos and saw an email from his daughter in which she included her dad’s Hebrew name. I davened Maariv, prayed for him but I wanted to say some prayers in his name whilst wearing my Tefillin. I was due to go for a bike ride at 8am Sunday and I thought I could daven beforehand. I didn’t. So I thought I’d daven on my return.

I was riding through Herzliya Pituach, sweating (sorry, mum, I mean perspiring), in my lycra shorts and cycling top (believe me, it’s not my best look!), when I suddenly spotted a Rabbi who was clearly asking a passer-by if he’d come in and help make up a Minyan. I’ve seen the beckoning outside that house over the last couple of years and I haven’t stopped - well, in my state of dress??!! Yesterday, however, I looked back and the Rabbi ‘waved’. I went into what I discovered was a Chabad House, put on Tefillin, davened and said some prayers for my friend.

The other side of this story is that the Rabbi told me that he was reading a story on Shabbos about a cyclist who made up a Minyan. He told me that he wouldn’t normally wave down a cyclist to help make up a Minyan as he usually thinks it’s highly unlikely that the call will be answered but he did yesterday - and I ‘answered’.

You might not consider it a miracle but, as I said, it felt like one to me. 

Who knows if I’d have put my Tefillin on when I got back home? H’’M knows and I think what happened yesterday suggests that I needed a little ‘persuasion’  -  and, yes, I put Tefillin on again this morning...and put on my tzisis, another little habit which had become a victim of my laziness. 

The really great value of this miracle? I emailed my friend’s daughter, who has been asking people to daven for her dad, I emailed her to tell her what happened and I told her that it impresses upon me that even if H’’M has decided that it will shortly be her dad’s ‘time’, Chas V’Shalom, H’’M is here, here now, and that when her dad does pass, he won’t be alone, that H’’M will be there with him. 

I hope that what happened yesterday gives her some comfort.

Shavua tov, all…

*I am going to be launching a new website in the next few days and I'll be going into a lot of detail about the illness which resulted in my cardiac arrest. The website is going to incorporate an abridged autobiography, my own experience of ‘the black dog’ of depression, my journey into the darkness, the recovery process, there’ll be a daily blog and perhaps some contributions from professionals such as a life coach, a psychologist and maybe others. I want to explore what makes people tick, nature v nurture, I want to encourage people to share their problems with me and with other contributors who can empathise. I will also be 'writing' about 'ordinary' people who have jumped hurdles, who have fallen down but who have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and have got on with it, people who have pushed through the headwinds and who have overcome adversity, people who inspire me and who, I think, can inspire others. The website will also be my stage for music and movie chat.

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