"A baby girl is searching for a home."
As Chaviva read further, she learned that the baby girl was born blind and the institution holding her sought a permanent home with adoptive parents to care for her.
Against all logic, Chaviva felt she must adopt this baby.
Despite never buying newspapers, she decided to buy this one to show the ad to her husband, Tzvi Moshe.
Tzvi Moshe Tzachor worked in Yerushalayim. When he came home that evening, the family ate dinner together, then Chaviva said, "I want to show you something I saw in the newspaper."
But Tzvi Moshe said, "Wait...first of all, I want to show you something that I saw."
And he took out a clipping from a newspaper he'd run across at work.
It was the same ad for the blind baby girl.
Deeply moved by this "coincidence," both parents saw this as a sign from Hashem telling them they were meant to adopt this baby.
So they called the number on the ad and discovered it belonged to an institution in Tel Aviv that housed disabled children.
The couple was invited to come the next day to see the baby (who was around a year old).
Oh...You Guys Meant THAT Kind of Blind.
Upon arrival, the staff showed them a bundle all wrapped up as a staff member held this "bundle" in a way so that the couple could only see the back of the baby's head.
Realizing the institution wanted to hide something, Chaviva & Tzvi Moshe asked to hold the baby themselves.
The staff resisted.
The couple insisted.
Finally, the staff allowed them to hold the baby.
And then Chaviva & Tzvi Moshe spotted what the staff tried to hide.
The baby had no eyeballs.
Instead, her closed eyelids sank into empty sockets.
"I think the staff was very tense about our decision," Chaviva recalled later. "It was hard for them to believe we would agree to accept a baby in that condition. But I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and we both stated to them unequivocally, 'We are ready to take her'."
And they did.
"With God's Help, No Baby will Ever Die in My Custody."
"It was clear to me that here was an abandoned baby in need of a home," she said. "What was needed at that moment was to help her; as far as we were concerned, it was saving a Jewish life — pure and simple."
With regard to the fact that Chaviva herself was only a month away from giving birth, she says matter-of-factly, "And what if I'd been having twins? Would I say I can only care for one of them? The attitude of mine and my husband's was to do what was necessary at that moment — including if it's not easy and even if it's complicated."
The institution was thrilled with their decision to adopt and promised to contact them once all the papers were ready.
All the bureaucracy took only 3 days. (Highly unusual at that time.) They contacted the Tzachors, who returned to pick up their new baby.
Chaviva immediately sought a medical examination for the baby girl.
At that time, Kiryat Arba lacked a proper health clinic, so the community was forced to use the services of an army doctor.
After completing his examination, the doctor told Chaviva, "Wrap her up and send her back to the place from which you brought her. Apparently, they prefer that she die in your custody and not in theirs."
But Chaviva remained resolute.
"With God's Help," she replied, "no baby will ever die in my custody."
Chaviva Asserts Liat's Place in the Family
But the baby's appearance horrified Mina.
"I'm not prepared to sleep with her in my room!" she said.
Chaviva understood her daughter, but pleasantly told her, "You may sleep wherever you choose. But the baby stays here."
"I hated her," says Mina.
That first night, Chaviva (not knowing which side the baby preferred to sleep) lay the baby on her side and left her that way, figuring that the baby would find her favorite position on her own.
After all, the institution told her that the baby knew how to turn over on her own.
But that ended up being a lie.
But late at night, when everyone else was sleeping Mina got up to look at her new sister and noticed that the one-year-old remained on that same side.
As Mina gazed at her new sister, her heart seethed with hatred & rage.
The crumpled little eyelids sunk into empty sockets. The little body full of repulsive bedsores that stank.
"Why did she come into my life?" Mina recalled thinking to herself. "I wanted a nice sister. And here, the baby girl who arrived was so ugly. She was a neglected baby and not at all according to my expectations."
Still seething with resentment, Mina approached the baby and jabbed her in the back with her finger.
The jab caused the baby to flop onto her stomach, her face pressing into the mattress.
Mina waited for the baby to roll back over (as per the reassurance of the institution), but the little girl never moved.
"Suddenly, I panicked," said Mina. "I pulled her back onto her side and then heard her sigh a very deep sigh — 'Ahhhhhhhhhhh' — like a 100-year-old man. That alarmed me and I realized just how helpless she was."
This aroused the compassion trapped beneath Mina's anger & hatred.
And Mina's innate compassion won out.
In the dark quiet of the night, Mina found herself speaking a promise to her new sister:
"Don't worry — I'll help you."
A Baby in Despair
In addition to the smelly bedsores & the lack of eyeballs, Liat suffered terrible constipation that made her sweat & strain with each movement — yet she never uttered a sound because in addition to everything else, Liat had given up on crying.
Crying never helped. So her little baby self had given up.
The only doctor who knew how to help with the physical problems worked in Tel Aviv, so Chaviva brought Liat all the way back there, then returned home to follow his instructions: For the constipation, a teaspoon of raisin wine every 15 minutes around the clock.
This became a full-time chore.
Chaviva could not even send Liat to the local daycare because they were not equipped to deal with her problems.
A Deeper Perspective on Crying
For the bedsores, Chaviva could only wipe clean the baby's skin between the sores; a full bath was against doctor's orders.
Eventually, the bedsores cleared up & allowed Chaviva to bathe her for the first time.
But it was a shock for the baby.
"Apparently, for a little baby who cannot see," remembers Chaviva, "the sudden sensation was very frightening. But after a moment, I saw her relax. And even her hand, which was always clenched in a fist that never opened, found release and went slack [in a good way]. Until then, we always joked how she must have stolen the midwife's ring, and how because of that, she never opened her hand."
With the warm bath, the little girl's entire body relaxed. Her legs were no longer stiff as a board and her knees now started to bend.
It seemed to Chaviva that the little girl was enjoying herself.
Finally, Chaviva finished bathing her, then lifted the baby to her shoulder for a cuddle.
And that's when Liat started crying for the first time — strong, lusty cries.
"I get emotional all over again every time I recall it because it was the first time she started to cry — to cry hard," says Chaviva. "It was as if she was trying to tell us, 'Look! After all this time, there is finally somebody who touches me and loves me!'
"I will never forget that cry," says Chaviva.
The lesson learned from that moment carries into Chaviva's work today with parents of disabled children.
"That was a cry that expressed so much," she explains. "Today, when I counsel parents of children with special needs and the people at social services, I say the way to identify a child who is not being cared for properly is the inability to cry.
"A child who realizes that crying will not help him — he doesn't cry. And that is the worst situation." Chaviva returns to that moment with Liat's first bout of crying: "The cries of the baby conveyed to me that she feels our love. And at that moment, I joined in her crying, and together we both cried and cried. Amid all that, I telephoned my husband and sobbed, 'Mazal tov — a daughter has been born to us'."
Now that their new daughter realized that she had someone to whom she could cry and be answered, everyone knew that the adoption had been finalized on "both" sides. They'd accepted & loved her as a true daughter — and now the little girl finally felt that love & acceptance that herself.
That Shabbat, Chaviva & Tzvi Moshe organized a big kiddush in the shul in honor of the new reality: This little girl was truly their daughter now.
In fact, Liat hadn't been her name; she'd come to them named Yael.
But the rav of the shul told Chaviva that since Chaviva had turned into the baby's actual mother, then Chaviva should call the baby a name of her own choosing.
So together, Chaviva & Tzvi Moshe decided to call her "Liat" — a name that contains the words li ("for me") and at ("you").
As Mina explains the meaning, "You are one of us; you aren't alone."
Life Revolves around Liat
The family soon discovered that in addition to her blindness, Liat suffered developmental delays.
As Kiryat Arba lacked resources at that time, Chaviva sought what Liat needed in Yerushalayim.
She discovered a rehabilitation center associated with Bikur Cholim hospital for special-needs children.
So Chaviva woke up early each morning to prepare breakfast sandwiches for her other eight children, then made her way to the rehabilitation center.
The program finished in the afternoon, forcing Chaviva to return in the late afternoon.
In Israel, lunch is the main meal of the day and the Tzachor children were used to a hot dinner waiting for them when they arrived home from school.
As a solution, Chaviva hired a woman just to cook the children a hot & satisfying meal, but the children complained that they "didn't like the food."
"No problem," said their mother. "Then we'll start eating a hot meal in the evening hours."
And that's what they did.
Millennia Later, The Fruit Still Doesn't Fall Far from the Eshel Tree
So the Tzachors decided to establish a center to assist special-needs children and their families.
They called it Neve Avraham in honor of the loving-kindness exemplified by Avraham Avinu.
Mina joined the venture and has worked there for 29 years so far.
Chaviva retired from running the center around the time her husband passed away, and Mina has been running it on her own ever since.
The center assists around 350 children a year and serves all the surrounding communities.
"Our motto," says Mina, "is to believe in every single one of the children and to know that the sky is the only limit."
Mina asserts that the proof of their method lies with Liat.
"In the merit that she lives with us, and always hears talking, laughing, and a natural life in which everyone is always hugging her endlessly and investing in her so much, she has mamesh progressed. Today, she's labelled as 'severely retarded' and not 'profoundly retarded' — and that is a significant difference."
Mina concludes, "We invest everything we have in every single one of the children at the center. And we are confident that with love and faith, everyone can develop beyond all expectations."
The Best Birthday Present in 78 Years
People around the Tzachor family felt bad for them and encouraged them to return Liat. "It's a mekach ta'ut," they remarked to Chaviva & Moshe Tzvi, referring to a situation in halacha in which making an acquisition under false pretenses nullifies that acquisition.
Another evaluation was given over like this: "Do neither of you understand that she's not only blind, but also retarded with severe disabilities?"
Needless to say, Chaviva & Tzvi Moshe refused to even consider returning Liat.
She was their daughter through and through.
Even today, with Liat unable to see, communicate, or even walk (she moves around the house on her knees), Chaviva holds on to the hope that Liat will still improve.
"The hope that Liat will advance still beats within me until today," says Chaviva. "I'm sure that the day will come when Liat will succeed in speaking and communicating with all of us. HaKadosh Baruch Hu is Great and He can do anything. I believe that every child needs one adult who will believe in him. It's true that Liat is already 44 years old, but as far as I'm concerned, she continues to be my little girl."
Hashem rewarded Chaviva for her emunah.
On Chaviva's 78th birthday, Liat said "Ima" (Mommy) for the first time.
Now Liat says it all the time & it's the first word on her lips when she wakes up in the morning.
Liat also says the name of her big sister: "Mina-Mina-Mina."
"The truth is," says Chaviva, "that in recent years — despite it seeming unreal and impossible — Liat is actually making progress. Since my husband passed away 4 years ago, I feel like he's functioning as a Heavenly resource. She shows us a lot more emotion, she hugs me all the time, and always wants to sit with me. She also really enjoys music. When we play songs by Avraham Fried, we see how she delighted she gets."
Why Did Hashem Create People with Such Severe Limitations?
For example, when Liat was younger, Chaviva and Tzvi Moshe couldn't attend family simchas together because a responsible adult always needed to be with Liat. Instead, they took turns going to family simchas.
Even now, with her husband's passing making Chaviva Liat's sole caretaker, Chaviva doesn't feel like she's missing much by not living the social life of other women her age.
"When I don't feel good or something," says Chaviva, "my children come to my aid."
All the other children are married with families of their own. But they're still there for their mother and sister whenever needed.
Ultimately, Chaviva sums up her feelings and also illuminates the real purpose of disabled people in our world (and also shows why they shouldn't be aborted or discarded):
"It's not only that we help her," says Chaviva. "But it's also that she helps us and educates all of us. In her merit, I developed patience for all my children. In her merit, my children became more sensitive toward others. And in her merit, a center was established that helps so many children.
"I thank Hashem every single day that He sent her to us. And I hope that her life will continue to be good, relaxed, and happy."