The Miraculous Lubavitch Quintuplets
After Seven Years of Infertility- Lubavitch Couple has Quintuplets
(translated from Hebrew and adapted by Chana (Jenny)Weisberg from article by R. Beener that appears in Mishpacha Tova, Kislev: 5762)
“Seven years we were married, without children…” is how David starts his story.
The Segal family had gone through seven years of hope and despair that ended in a wondrous way on the second of Elul, when five babies came at once to join their family. Yes, five! And thank G-d they are all healthy and whole.
Their Life in Russia
“Maybe it would be good if we started from the beginning…” David suggests. “My wife and I were born in Russia. Russia of those days did not allow Jews to observe their religion. In general, the word “Jew” was a word that was so dangerous that we did not say it, even in our thoughts. We grew up without a trace of Jewish life…”
When they married, David and his Esther were both young students, he of physics and she of linguistics. Two young Jews, without worries, who knew nearly nothing about what it meant to be Jewish.
“We married in a civil ceremony, as was the norm in Russia,” he emphasized. “When we celebrated our first anniversary, we were already not the same worry-free youngsters…our home was quiet and empty, without a child to fill the emptiness. We started going from one fertility treatment to the next, and from one doctor to another, but to no avail.”
In the framework of the different treatments, the couple came to a Jewish doctor in Moscow. At the end of the treatment, the doctor examined them with a serious look and said, “Fine, these treatments you are doing for your body, and what are you doing for your souls?”
“What do you suggest?” they asked.
“Maybe you should have a Chuppah [a Jewish wedding canopy] and a Jewish wedding, according to Jewish law, for the blessing it will bring you.”
Another year passed. A year of treatments and doctors and hopes and despair. Over the course of the same year, in the back of their minds hovered the recommendation of that doctor, like something that would not give them rest. In the end, they could not ignore her recommendation any longer. By the end of that year they were answering “Amen,” underneath a Jewish wedding canopy.
“It’s difficult,” David says “…It’s difficult to explain the incredible feeling that we had when we stood there, under the wedding canopy. It was so exciting. Maybe we did not understand the meaning of the ceremony, but the experience of standing there was so moving, so exciting.”
But the wedding ceremony was just one part of the story. The cherry on top of the whipped cream.
Before that, when the young couple came to Rabbi Pavezner, the rabbi of Petersburg, in order to request that he marry them in a Jewish ceremony, he smiled at their innocence. They did not know the long list of requirements they would have to fulfill beforehand: such as a circumcision for example.
“And then I had a circumcision…” David says simply, as though it is a routine thing for a person to have a circumcision twenty plus years after his birth… Afterwards the rabbi instructed them concerning the other basic commandments. “And we began studying Torah…” David added. He, a student of physics- his wife, a linguist by profession- both of them rationalists. And they began at the beginning- from ABC.
“That is how we began our way to Judaism.” He concludes. “It began with our desire for children. And it continued as we got to know the Lubavitch community in Petersburg. It was an acquaintance that led to our becoming religious.” “It’s a warm community, with so much soul!” David exclaims, almost five years after the fact. “And they accepted us into their community with a big embrace and with so much love,” he adds.
Very quickly, the two went from being students to teachers, and in addition to teaching they would often have thirty students at their house for Shabbat dinner. And, despite all this, the Segals could not forget their private suffering, that they had no children in their home.
Miracles from the Rebbe’s Letters
Two years ago, a rabbi who learned of the couple’s lack of children turned for a blessing for them in the Igerot Kodesh (Igerot Kodesh are the books containing all the collected letters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zts”l. It has become a tradition for Lubavitcher Chassidim to place a letter, question or request for a blessing into the Igerot Kodesh, on a random page, and in that way receive an answer/blessing.]
The answer that they received from the Igerot was amazing in how directly it related to their situation. It told them that they would soon have a son, and even indicated the name they should give the boy.
“We believed that what was written would come to pass, and that we would indeed have a son.” “We continued with the fertility treatments, and believed with all of our hearts that what we had read would certainly come to pass. And indeed, a little more than a year later, the couple received the news that Esther was pregnant.
David explains, “It’s difficult for me to explain. It was greater than we could have expected- like receiving a present that you had not expected to receive. But that was just the beginning. One day, out of the blue, my wife called me and told me that she was expecting twins.” And that was not the end of it. Soon afterwards, the doctor told them that they were expecting four- no more, no less.
David admits, “The truth is, at that point we began to get a little bit afraid…four?! Us? How will the birth go?”
At that point their doctor, who was also a bit confused, suggested that they abort some of the fetuses in order to ensure that at least some of them would survive this crowded pregnancy. David asked his rabbi, who told him that there were differing opinions- some which favored abortion of some of the fetuses, and some which did not.
David, in the meantime, did his own research and found that in the case of multiple gestations there was no proven relationship between aborting some of the fetuses, and a healthy result for the others.
Of course, as Lubavitcher Chassidim, they also once again consulted the Igerot Kodesh. They received the answer, “You should preserve all flesh.” Then they looked again and received the answer, “May you have an easy birth, at the right time, a healthy and whole baby.”
When the doctor heard that they had decided against aborting some of the fetuses, he said, “Thank G-d!” and let out a sigh. When the couple was surprised by her reaction, she explained, “It’s not easy for me to authorize an abortion. The mind says that it’s for the best, but the heart wants for it to be otherwise.”
In addition, the doctor instructed them to immediately emigrate to Israel, where they would receive the best possible medical care.
Pregnant in Israel
Two weeks later, David was studying at the Tsemach Tsedek yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City, and Esther was being monitored at Shaarei Tsedek hospital. While there, the couple received news that they could not have possibly imagined. They were told that they were expecting not four but five children. Esther was immediately hospitalized for the rest of her pregnancy.
After her first day at the hospital, Esther called David who heard that she was crying inconsolably. The doctors had told her that she was suffering from an illness, and that the babies’ chances for survival were close to nonexistent. And that was just the beginning.
Those weeks, prior to the birth, Esther and David will remember as the most difficult of their lives. Every day, the complications became worse and worse. The couple vacillated between despair and hope over and over. The doctors accused the couple of endangering their babies with their earlier decision not to abort some of the fetuses.
Through hours that were too difficult to bear, the David and Esther prayed that everything should go well. They gave charity, and checked their mezuzas and tefillin, and prayed and prayed.
When Esther arrived at the hospital, the doctors made the dire prediction that the pregnancy would survive for just another two days, but in the end, with G-d’s help, Esther held on for another ten weeks, and finally gave birth by C-section on the second of Elul of this year.
And they were born, all five of them, three boys and two girls- their weights varying between 1200 and 1400 grams. In their wondrous birth, the Segal quintuplets managed to amaze the greatest of doctors, all of them healthy and whole, despite all of the worst predictions. So, in one day, the Segal family went from being childless to being a family blessed with five children.
Do you think this is easy? And all seven of them are new immigrants. They will have to build a new life in a new country, as a new family.
Yes, they are heading out on a path that is not easy, with countless awakenings at night, countless feedings from the bottle, countless rockings on the right shoulder, and then the left, and hundreds of strokes on little bodies…five of them.
And through all of this, happiness! Too much happiness to comprehend.