On a fundraising trip to Bialystok, the Chofetz Chaim zt”l and his attendant paid a visit to a simple resident of the city. The woman who answered the door drew back in surprise when seeing her illustrious guests.
“I… I wish the Rebbe could speak with him,” the flustered woman replied, “but he isn’t well.” Her voice dropped to a whisper: “My husband has been paralyzed for several years now.”
The Chofetz Chaim was unfazed: “Then it’s even more important that I visit him! This is the Mitzvah of bikur cholim (visiting the sick)!”
The woman led her guests up the stairs and to her husband’s room. The thin, gaunt man lay motionless in his bed, appearing almost lifeless. But his eyes opened wide at the sight of his unexpected guests, and a sudden light illuminated his features.
“Good evening, Rebbe,” he managed to whisper. “It is kind of the Chofetz Chaim to take his precious time to visit me. I wish I could stand up for the Rebbe.” The man dropped his eyes. “Please forgive me.”
“It is my privilege to see you this evening,” the Chofetz Chaim said warmly. “Please allow me to shake your hand.” The man looked down, embarrassed at not being able to fulfill the Chofetz Chaim’s request. “It has been several years since I’ve even held a glass in my hand. How I wish I could lift my hand!”
“Try,” Rav Yisroel Meir urged “Give me your hand.”
The man reluctantly made the seemingly useless effort. As he had expected, nothing happened. “Try again.” Encouraged the Chofetz Chaim.
The man bit his lip in concentration, coordinating all his strength to lift his immobile hand. Beads of sweat formed and rolled down his temples. His wife gasped from her place in the corner when her husband’s long-paralyzed hand began to move! The Chofetz Chaim’s face beamed, reflecting the happiness of the Bialystok man and his wife. He took the man’s hand warmly in his own and shook it heartily. The Chofetz Chaim’s attendant looked on in amazement.
“How can I thank you, Rebbe?” the man asked. The tears flowed freely from his eyes. “You healed my hand...”
Rav Yisroel Meir turned to his attendant and said: “Take his other arm. Let’s sit him up.” Now the man began to protest: “But Rebbe, I haven’t moved a single limb for years. It’s a miracle that I moved my hand! How can I possibly sit up?”
But the Chofetz Chaim and his attendant went ahead and slowly propped the man into an upright position. The man looked around, amazed at the view he had not seen in so long. Tears coursed down his wife’s cheeks as she witnessed her husband’s transformation.
“Thank you, Rebbe,” he whispered. “You’re a miracle worker!”
But the Chofetz Chaim was not finished: He proceeded to instruct his attendant to stand the man up. Slowly, slowly, the man stood up on two feet, released from the bed that had been his prison for so long.
The Chofetz Chaim zt”l humbly took his leave from the man’s house, as he was showered with thanks and praise. It was just a few days later that the man learned to walk normally again, completely unaided -- except by Hashem in Heaven.