When Chaya Tavin gave birth to her son, Binyomin Dovid, 13 years ago, she wasn’t sure how she would find the inner strength to care for her Down syndrome baby who had numerous other medical issues. Over a decade later, she now credits that son with saving her husband's life during last week's deadly terror attack in Jerusalem.
As a woman of deep spiritual convictions, Tavin sought guidance and comfort – like for many other aspects of her life -- from her Jewish faith when the child was born. When the boy was a baby, she made a special trip an hour’s drive away from Jerusalem to Bnei Brak, a religious community outside Tel Aviv, to see Batsheva Kanievsky, the wife of a leading rabbi, who has dedicated her life to offering religious advice and moral support to Jewish women.
The moment Kanievsky saw Tavin and the baby that was sleeping in Tavin's arms, Kanievsky told Tavin she believed the baby held a special power of protection over the family.
“You don’t know what shmira [protection] you have in your home,” the woman said, according to Tavin.
More than a decade later, Tavin says she finally understood the truth that was hidden in Kanievsky’s prediction and credits her child, Binyomin Dovid, with saving the life of her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Tavin, who was supposed to be at the prayer service last Tuesday during which two Palestinian cousins launched a murderous rampage with knives, a meat cleaver and a gun, killing four worshippers and an Israeli policeman.
That’s because Congregation Bnei Torah, where the terrorist attack occurred, was the synagogue Rabbi Tavin prayed at every morning in keeping with Jewish tradition. Every day, that is, except for Tuesdays when he took care of their special needs child.
Tavin posted her story online, paying tribute to her friends who were murdered, and described the special blessing of her son. Her story has become something of a viral sensation in Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles where it was shared not only online but from pulpits during Sabbath services this past weekend.
“My husband came home to get Binyomin Dovid ready for the school bus. You see, Tuesday morning is Abba [Father] day – Binyomin Dovid looks forward to Tuesday morning all week,” Tavin wrote. “Maybe because Abba puts ketchup on the cheese sandwich, or puts more pretzels in the bag than Ima [Mother] does, or more salt on the salad. Or maybe because he so loves his Abba and their special morning together.”
Because Tuesday is their special father-son day together, Mrs. Tavin explained that her husband would attend dawn worship services at the next-door synagogue rather than their usual congregation.
Sometimes on Tuesdays, he went to both, popping into the next-door congregation and Bnei Torah to help out with both worship services as he is a considered to be a “Kohen,” a descendant of the biblical Aaron, Moses’ brother, one of the Jewish priestly class, who play a special role blessing the community in Jewish prayer services. But last week, he didn’t go to both services.
“Since he was often the only Kohen, on Tuesdays he would pop in,” Tavin wrote, adding that the carnage occurred shortly before the portion of the service when the priestly blessing would have been underway.
“But Hashem [God] had other plans for my husband,” she wrote.
A few months before the massacre, a neighbor lost a close family member. As it happened, the neighbor was also a Kohen and wanted to take on an additional religious duty in honor of the relative who had died, which observant Jews believe elevates the soul of the dead.
The additional duty was one year of leading the early morning service at Bnei Torah. Because he knew his congregation was set with a Kohen to offer the priestly blessing, Rabbi Tavin knew he could take his time with his son on that Tuesday morning and not rush to lend a hand at Congregation Bnei Torah.
Of her visit years ago to the Tel Aviv woman, and her prophesy, Mrs. Tavin wrote, “I thought I understood. Perhaps, I thought, other things would be easier because this [raising her young child] would be difficult. But now, almost 13 years later, I understand.”
“Binyomin Dovid was the only reason my husband was not in his minyan [prayer service] that morning,” Tavin wrote, adding that because Rabbi Tavin wasn’t there, the partner with whom he studied Bible early every morning also didn’t show up, preferring to pray at a synagogue closer to his home.
“We could not have imagined so many years ago that our son would save his father’s life and the life of his chavrusa [study partner],” she wrote.
“One thing was clear. It appeared random, but it is only random in the eyes of the world. We have to know that it is exacting in the eyes of Hashem [God], and that while we cannot possibly understand the equation we know it is the Truth,” Tavin wrote.
“To us, it is clear that the world is run with exactitude, and that this brutal butchering of innocent souls had purpose and meaning. We must focus inward, avoiding politics and rage. We must focus our energy inward by asking what each of us can do better than before. That is the Jewish response,” she added.
TheBlaze contacted Mrs. Tavin by phone to hear more about her gripping experience.
Tavin said that Binyomin Dovid is her ninth child, so though she had a lot of previous experience as a mother, Down syndrome was a new and daunting challenge.
“It was our faith that gave us a tremendous amount of inner strength and direction when he was born,” Tavin told TheBlaze. “It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s changed all of us for the better, no question.”
“I’ve met some of the most tremendously amazing people in the world because of him,” Tavin said.
Tavin said she truly believes that everything in life is designed for a particular reason, even if we don’t know why certain things happen when they do.
“My family had to have this child at his time and [with] his challenges. It was clearly what was best for us for our extended family, for our neighbors. When you know that to be true, the challenges aren’t less hard, but they’re a lot more bearable,” Tavin said.
Asked what lesson others might be able to learn from her experience, Tavin said, “Everyone has to look inward and seek. There’s not a person in the world that he or she can’t do better. We have so much to learn from those who were killed. They were such fine human beings. We can strive to be better human beings.”
See related story from TheBlaze on how Israelis sought comfort in their faith following the synagogue terrorist attack.
(H/T: Israel Matzav)