On the 13th of Kislev (the Jewish month when Chanukah takes place), I was 9 months pregnant with my third child. I woke up in the middle of the night confused, sweating, and very stressed. I tried to get my husband up to tell him about my dream, but he was more interested in sleeping than listening. I sat in my bed, waiting for it to be 6:00AM. Then I called my friend.
Nora answered the phone and asked, “What’s going on? Why you are calling me so early? Are you in labor?”
“No!” I explained, “I’m calling you because I had a dream and you were in it. It was a very weird dream. We were both at a place with a small, strange pool with lots of stairs, but something about it felt familiar. Maybe it was the Mikvah, that the girls go to the night before getting married.”
“I can’t believe this!” Nora exclaimed, “My sister who moved to Mexico several years ago and became religious called me last night and told me I should go to the Mikveh before giving birth.” (Nora was seven months pregnant.) “Apparently it’s a segula (good omen) to go then, especially since I don’t go every month.”
“Every month?” I asked. “What do you mean by every month? I thought women only go to the Mikveh the night before getting married.” (As a non-religious Sephardic woman, I, like the rest of the brides in my community went to the Mikveh the night before getting married.)
Nora replied, “You are supposed to go every month after your period.”
“Nora you know what?” I interjected, “If I dreamed it and your sister called you last night, lets go!”
“We can’t go just like that,” Nora replied.
“Why not?” I replied.
“Because we need to prepare ourselves,” Nora explained.
“What do we need to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Let me call my sister in Mexico, and I’ll let you know.”
Nora called back soon after with the information and we both prepared ourselves. She picked me up and we arrived at the Mikveh. As soon as I entered the room I was in shock, because it was exactly as I saw it in my dream, even though I had not remembered what it looked like since my one visit many years earlier.
Nora went in first. She told me that I should immerse three times and ask Hashem for all that my heart desires. After Nora, I immersed in the pure waters of the Mikveh. I felt my heart pounding. It was a very special feeling that I can’t properly describe. It was as if I was immersing in my mother’s womb again, and at the same time reconnecting with my Creator while I had a baby in my own womb, whom I felt I was purifying and preparing to come into the world.
As soon as I went out of these sacred waters, my radio rang (no cell phones at that time). It was my doctor, asking me to please go to the hospital because he wanted to monitor the baby. I was completely shocked to receive such a message and asked my doctor why I would need to be checked when I had just come to the office two days earlier and everything was fine. He wouldn’t explain. He just insisted that I come as soon as I was a ready. Even though it was very early in the morning, due to my impromptu Mikvah trip, I explained that I was already out, and I could meet him in 10 minutes.
When I arrived, the doctor immediately began to monitor the baby explained that I would need an emergency C-section because the baby’s heartbeat was not strong enough for him to survive a natural birth. The doctor performed the C-section, and my beautiful son was born. I was now blessed to be the mother of two girls and a boy. News began to spread and the whole family was overjoyed.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the happiness of our new arrival vanished and turned into a terrifying nightmare. Before I even left the delivery room, I went into respiratory failure and slipped into a coma. I was put on a respirator. All of my family and friends were overwhelmed with distress and worry. The doctors could not say if I was going to make it or not, and if I would survive, they did not know if I would be left with brain damage, G-d forbid.
Nora was in shock. She didn’t know if going to the Mikvah was the right thing to do. A woman is supposed to go every month and keep a separation time from her husband before immersing in the waters of the Mikvah, and we had not done that. But deep inside, she believed that we had gone because G-d wanted us to go. G-d sent us a very clear message, and we had decided to listen. Nora, saw my father so depressed. She told him not to worry – she knew I would be OK because I had just done a big mitzvah that day, though she didn’t tell him what it was.
After 36 hours of agony, a big (pre-Chanukah) miracle happened. The same day as my husband’s Jewish birthday, which now became my second birthday, I opened my eyes. I could not remember anything that had happened even a few days before giving birth. My short term memory would not transfer the information to my long term memory; therefore, I didn’t even remember I had given birth. To this day, I don’t recall certain things, like my son’s Brit Milah. I only remember what I saw in the video and pictures. At the Brit Milah, I could not understand why everyone was extra happy. I did not realize that everyone was grateful that I was alive and well, Baruch Hashem.
But my miraculous recovery is not the end of the story. My curiosity never stopped. I always wanted to know why my doctor called me so early that morning and asked me go to the hospital. Several years later, my doctor finally confessed the most astounding thing. He said, “That morning, at around 5:00AM, I woke up because I had a dream. Your mother-in-law (she was his patient and had passed away eight years earlier) knocked on my door and screamed at me, ‘Please, please, run! The baby and the mother are in danger!”
The doctor said, “I did not know what to do. I could not call you at 5:00AM because I had a dream; that is not professional. So I stayed awake looking at the phone, waiting for it to ring, but since it didn’t, I waited until a normal time to call you and was very surprised you were out of the house.”
I was in shock listening to the doctor. I started crying. I already knew that G-d loves me as He loves all His children, but until that time I had never realized that G-d is in charge of every single detail of our lives.
I understood that G-d wanted me to invite Him into my life. And so that’s what I did. I started on a road to Jewish observance that transformed my life into one of meaning. That dream for me was not only a wake up call, it was an awakening to a new spiritual existence which I lacked. Today my husband, my children, and both of my parents have all rekindled the light of our heritage, due to this Chanukah miracle, just as the Maccabees fought to keep the light of our traditions ablaze many years ago.