By Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm – Chabad Thailand
At one of the evenings we held at the Chabad center in Bangkok, we sat for an event of songs and stories. Each participant took turns to tell a personal story. Sitting with us was a bochur, Shmulik Ofen.
He told us:
“A few years ago, I traveled with my brother and 4 friends to do Mivtzoim with IDF soldiers on Purim in the area of Chevron.
“Before traveling, my brother was in touch with an acquaintance of his who was a lieutenant colonel. He gave us IDF uniforms to use.
“When we got to the Tarqumiya area, we arrived at a checkpoint, and a vehicle of terrorists ambushed us. They shot at us and I was severely wounded by a bullet in my neck. I immediately lost consciousness.
“When we arrived at the checkpoint, the soldier who was standing there saw the situation and called for medical help. When the medic saw my condition, he called for a helicopter.
“The ambulance kept driving and they transferred me midway on a helicopter to the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem. I remained there for a month and my life was miraculously saved.
“When I woke up, the people around told me what happened and the doctors said that the biggest miracle was that I was flown by helicopter. Had I arrived a few minutes later, the damage would have been irreversible.”
As Shmulik was telling his moving story, I noticed that the Israeli backpacker sitting right near him was crying. Just as Shmulik concluded his story, this young man Almog jumped up and gave him a hug.
“I’ve been looking for you for five years,” Almog told Shmulik. “I am the medic who treated you at the checkpoint and I was the one who shouted in the radio about sending a helicopter because the situation is serious.”
Almog went on to say, “It been several years that I had a strong inner need to meet you and to get to know the person that I have been privileged to save.”
He marveled how Divine Providence united them in Thailand. “And they seated me right near you so I can hear your story!”