Our family just experienced a miracle of a lifetime. G‑d transformed a brush with death into a day of celebration and thanksgiving.

It took me a few days to put my thoughts together into a coherent letter. I even contemplated not saying anything because it’s so easy for people to judge. In the end, however, we decided to share this story because first, it may save another life someday, and second, it would be selfish to keep a miracle of this magnitude to ourselves.

To make the story short, this past Thursday, I pulled our 3-year-old, Levi (who just had an upshernish) from the bottom of a pool. He had the appearance of a limp, dead body with no vitals (no pulse, heartbeat or breath).

While I have no CPR training and have never seen it done before, I placed his lifeless body on the pavement and started alternating between breathing into his mouth and compressing his stomach and chest. Miraculously, after 30 seconds, he expelled about a half-gallon of water from every hole in his body and faintly started to breathe before the first responders made it.

The ambulance came, and we went to the hospital. While his vitals were back, we were still unsure whether he had sustained brain or other irreparable damage.

I sat writing a letter to the Rebbe on my phone adjacent to the bed where his lethargic body was lying. The Rebbe was particular that people use the precise Jewish name and mother’s Jewish name of a person in need. After typing the last letter of my wife Natanya’s name (and not even a space after that), Levi gave another gigantic vomit—all over himself, his bed, the chair and me, and started to cry a normal, healthy cry. I stood him up while calling the nurse to help clean up, and I knew he was going to be fine.

Three hours later, we were back home, grateful, humbled and changed forever. Grateful that our son was saved from death, and humbled, knowing that many people just as worthy as us, were not as fortunate. After all, the leading cause of death in children under four is drowning. I slept the night on the floor next to his bed, waking up every 15 minutes to feel his warm skin and heartbeat. In the morning, we woke up and said the first prayer together, מודה אני (Modeh Ani). When I got to the words, שהחזרת בי נשמתי, “You have returned my soul to me,” I broke down into an uncontrollable sob of gratitude.

Friday night we had a Thanksgiving meal (סעודת הודאה) and now, thank G‑d, everything is back to normal. We even just got back from a trike ride and a swim in that same pool.

Believe it or not, there is a blessing to make when saved from death, which reads ברוך ... הגומל לחייבים טובות, “Blessed ... He who grants kindness to the guilty.” The Rebbe asked, “Why is it relevant, when thanking G‑d for bestowing kindness on you, to mention that you are guilty?”

He answered that the Hebrew word, חייב, “guilty,” can also mean “owe,” like when you owe someone money. The natural place of a soul is in heaven. Life is better there, without the struggles of the human experience. The reason souls come down into this world is to do a mission. As the Baal Shem Tov taught, “a soul can come into the world for 70 or 80 years just to do a favor for another person.” As long as your mission hasn’t been completed, you still “owe” G‑d.

Now that Levi was saved from death in a miraculous way, I know more than ever how important it is to stress that he still “owes” G‑d. Levi Yitzchak Halevy ben Natanya Freyda Rochel has a very important mission to accomplish in this world, and he hasn’t completed it yet, thank G‑d!

This story happened in the month of Elul (the month before the High Holidays). You may have read the miraculous story of my birth, which also happened this month. If you didn’t see it yet, you can read it here:

What I find most interesting about the story is that the day after my mother miraculously recovered with a blessing from the Rebbe, my father received a call from the Rebbe’s secretary, notifying him that “it is the month of Elul, and the Rebbe wants you to know the King is in the field.”

The reference is to a Chabad teaching that the month of Elul has the same spiritual energy as the High Holidays (otherwise known as the י"ג מדות הרחמים or “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy”). The question is why we don’t celebrate and honor this spiritual energy in the same way that we do during the High Holidays. To this, the Alter Rebbe gave the analogy of the King in the field.

Rosh Hashanah is like the king in the palace, where you need appointments, preparations, etc., to make a request. When the King is traveling, however, you can approach the King immediately, without any preparations, and make the same requests.

During the High Holidays, there’s a protocol. Shofars, long prayers, holiday restrictions, etc. During the month of Elul, the Rebbe told my father that these 13 attributes of mercy are available to anyone who asks. Now I, too, have a miracle in this month of Elul, when the King really is in the field. And this, for the more Kabbalistically inclined, is what the י"ג מדות ,הרחמים “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy” are. A mother miraculously recovering, and a child miraculously starting to breathe again.

If you know anyone who needs a blessing during this special time, make sure to write a letter to the Rebbe, which you can do at: ohelchabad.org.

May we never need miracles like this, but if we do, may they always be ready for us.

כתיבה וחתימה טובה

May you be written and sealed for good (life).