Sunday, May 7, 2017

You’ll Soon Dance Together!...By Rav Yonatan Shai Freedman ’01, Overseas Alumni Coordinator

You’ll Soon Dance Together!
By Yonatan Shai Freedman

During my Shana Bet (5763/2002), Shaltiel Katsch, a fellow Shana Bet talmid from England, was hit by a car while stepping off a bus.  He was unconscious for weeks on end, and his prognosis was not good – it was so bad, in fact, that a hospital representative approached the family to discuss donating his organs.  

We were all torn between hope and pessimism.  One of our classmates organized non-stop Tehillim in Yeshiva; I remember a few shifts in the middle of the night, picking up where the previous person left off.  We passionately recited those pirkei Tehillim on Shaltiel’s behalf, but during our frequent visits to his bedside, watching him while he lay in a coma, it was hard to believe that the situation was really going to improve.

At the very least, we thought, we could provide some chizuk to Shaltiel’s family. 
Ironically, it was actually his family who reminded us to keep hoping and praying.  Every time we visited, Shaltiel’s father would say, “Next time you come, you can run with him,” or, “Come back to play ball with him.”  Most frequently, he left us with, “You’ll soon dance together!”  We stared at our friend lying in his hospital bed, connected to wires and tubes and not moving at all, and his father said, “You’ll soon dance together!”  We did our best not to look at him incredulously.  Maybe we even thought he was naïve.  But time and again, whenever we would come visit, he would remind us that Shaltiel would dance with us one day…

In the end, Shaltiel’s father was right, and we – his incredulous friends – were wrong.  Shaltiel did wake up from his coma, and after years of intense therapy, he is able to walk and function well.  He returned to England and became an architect, and last year he got married.

Next week, on Lag Ba’Omer, Shaltiel is donating a sefer Torah to the Yeshiva in memory of Moreinu HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l.  Like many in the Yeshiva, I look forward to attending and to dancing with a Torah dedicated in memory of a gadol from whom I’ve learned so much.  But I also look forward to fulfilling the prediction of Shaltiel’s father – “You’ll soon dance together!” 
Baruch shome’a tefilla.

HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein ztl speaks at a seudat hodaya in honor of Shaltiel's recovery in the Yeshiva - Nissan 5764

Shaltiel and his father greet HaRav Baruch Gigi and HaRav Mosheh Lichtenstein at the Seudat Hodaya.
We were so happy and grateful  - this photo is titled in the Yeshiva's archive as:
"Shaltiel Omed Al Raglav"

Shaltiel back in The Gush to learn - Nissan 5764! 

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