A Survivor’s Story – HaRav Yosef Taussig

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Rabbi Yosef Taussig, Shlita, head of the Rabbinical Court in Elad, Israel, shares his personal battle with cancer and how Safirstein Research helped him on the road to recovery in this moving article.

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He is from a prestigious and holy family, with the previous generations’ perfect faith in the One who said and the world was created. Even when beset with extreme difficulties that seemingly had no solution, his forefathers acted out of pure faith and HaShem’s salvation was sure in coming.

Here is the story of Harav Hagaon Rabbi Yosef Taussig, Rosh Av Bais Din of the Balad Chassidim, and the salvation he ascribes to  the merit of the Holy Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

By Yaakov Man, Pictures by Shmuel Deri

At the Tziyun of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron, among the people who go in and out, stands Rabbi Yosef of the Tiferes Yechezkel – Balad community of Boro Park.

His prayer there is not just any prayer; it is a special prayer of thanks for the merit of Rashbi, among other merits that took him from the clutches of the Angel of Death. The doctors had given him only hours to live.

In a special interview, Rabbi Taussig says “I beseeched HaShem and He healed me, taking me out of the pit of death, back to life.”

Just two years ago he lay on his death bed barely alive, and now he is on the road to recovery. He remains weak; his face is pale and he speaks only with difficulty. Still, the more he speaks about the miracle the more his voice strengthens, the pain forgotten. His face lights up in a smile.

“Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said it is in his power to release all Am Yisrael from judgment” he says. “So too this is how I feel: that I was released from a strict judgment. Our Sages said that Rabbi Shimon may be relied upon in times of dire need. In my dire need I trusted in him and was judged to life”.

Travel at the height of weakness

Two years ago, Rabbi Yosef was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his body. “I suffered acute pains” he recollects, “but I paid no attention and thought it would pass. The pains became more acute and medical checks revealed a tumor in my kidneys.

“For two months doctors fought the disease in any way they could, but nothing helped. The treatments were painful but the situation only worsened. The doctors gave up and said there was little they could do. Only two months ago, my son was married and I was barely able to come. I must say, however, that even when close to death I did not lose hope and I trusted in HaKadosh Boruch Hu. As I have been used to saying all these years, so now I say: The salvation of HaShem comes in the blink of an eye. We can only do our best and leave the rest up to HaShem.

“Despite the great suffering, two years ago I went up the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the holy city of Meron to pray. It is well known that after the Kosel HaMaaravi, where the Shechina remains, the best place to pray is by Rashbi. I went up to his Tziyun and beseeched with streaming tears that my life be saved. I learned two lessons from my father: to pray and to trust HaShem to answer me.

“Not only did I myself go to Tziyun Rashbi; when I was about to go through hard treatments and operations, delegations were sent to Kever Rashbi to pray for me. Today, a year later, it is in these last two months that I really feel how I was rescued from death to life.

“Rabbi Taussig explains, “They tried to operate on the malignant tumor to remove it, but then discovered the tumor at a major artery junction and could not remove it. The doctors also tried chemotherapy. It is well known that these treatments cause great weakness; the treatments just weakened me all the more but didn’t heal me. It became very hard to give my regular classes or come to shul. Hardest for me was the inability to give lessons and strengthen my community as usual.

How was it possible to continue serving the community while feeling the Angel of Death just around the corner?

“It was only trust and faith in HaShem that kept me going. I feel that everything I learned and went through previously was a preparation to help me pass this test. We need to remember that in reality we are in the hands of HaShem and not the Angel of Death. It’s important to understand that trusting HaShem to help us is what brings salvation. We beseeched HaShem, we overturned worlds with our prayers, and we knew that this was what would help. We didn’t merely hope; we knew that HaShem would rescue us.”

And how did the community take your illness?

“They cared and helped all they could.  In the yeshiva I set up there are thousands of talmidim (bli ayin hara), many of whom prayed for my recovery. Members of our congregation accepted upon themselves not to speak at times of davening and torah reading, besides the other things they accepted upon themselves.

Did the doctors themselves ever lose hope?

“Yes, of course. Several months ago the tumor had spread and the damage was so extensive that the doctors told me I only had two weeks to live. The illness had deteriorated, and I could barely move my hands or feet. My entire family could barely cope and cried constantly. Some of my family traveled to my close friend, the holy Admor of Amishinov. He comforted the teary eyed family by telling them: Even when a sharp sword lies on a person’s neck, he should never despair of Divine mercy. It is forbidden to give up!’ And I myself never gave up.”

The Gemara tells of Sages who said of their pains “We do not want them or their great reward”

“People make the mistake that a person who trusts HaShem to do all for the best is not allowed to moan and say “It hurts, I’m not interested”. This is a mistake. My rabbi and teacher HaGaon Chaim Shmulevitz Zt”l would say: When it hurts, you scream; it doesn’t matter how much you scream. When it hurts we scream, but do not forget that at the same time, even with great suffering, HaShem’s salvation comes in the blink of an eye.

“In the end, HaShem’s messenger came in the person of someone from Chicago (Abraham Safirstein) who found a new way to treat malignant tumors. He had lost a close family member, and this led him to research and develop a special way to treat tumors.”

“When I started treatment by him, the doctors were skeptical that anything else could help. After some time, however, I felt noticeably better. I am still in the midst of treatments and in need of salvation, but the danger of death has passed. I have seen with my own eyes how even when a sharp sword is at a person’s neck, he should not lose hope.”

“Now”, he concludes, “when I returned to the Tziyun Rashbi with my family, there was a great emotional uplifting. I prayed that I should continue to strengthen and return to complete health and I felt the prayer flowed easily, meaning it would be accepted. I am sure now that in the merit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai I would merit to return again next year healthy with new strength.”

In this letter, HaRav Taussig, Shlita, gives his blessing for the Safirstein Research Program.

Rav Taussig letter of recommendation

Here is a translation of this letter:

Rabbi Yosef Taussig

1379 58th Street

Brooklyn, N.Y. 11219

(718) 851-7434

February 13, 2013

Wednesday, Torah Portion:  “And they take for me donations”

Brooklyn, New York


With this letter I recommend a very dear and precious man,

Avraham Safirstein,

who merited to save many Jewish souls from the terrible sickness, may HaShem save us, by natural methods, and with G-d’s help healed them and stood them up on their feet; I am one of these souls, and regarding him we can say the words of our Sages: “An Expert doctor who healed three people with three different amulets and each amulet itself worked successfully on three different people”(…the amulet is considered part of one’s clothing and one may go out with it on Shabbat.) (Shabbat 61b)

And, in addition to this, he has opened a chesed fund(gemach) called Binyan Ariel for those unable to pay for the materials needed for recovery. It is therefore a great mitzvah to support this gemach and to take part in saving people. And all those who help and assist will be blessed from the source of blessings, and they should never know of this horrible malady, and only goodness and kindness should be their portion.

With much blessing,

Yosef Taussig

Av Beis Din of the Holy Congregation of Balad

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