TEL AVIV – A Florida teenager lying in a coma here after being critically injured last week in a suicide bombing opened his eyes for the first time since the attack yesterday just as his rabbi donned him with teffillin, or Jewish prayer phylacteries.
Daniel Wultz, 16, was one of over 60 people injured in last Monday’s attack in which a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded section of Tel Aviv as Israelis celebrated the fifth day of the Passover holiday. The blast ripped through a falafel restaurant just outside the city’s old central bus station, killing nine. The same restaurant was hit by a suicide attack this past January, wounding 20 people.
Wultz, a resident of Weston, Fla., was on Passover vacation in Israel along with his family. The teenager was seated with his father at an outside table of the targeted restaurant when the bomb was detonated.
Described as an avid basketball player, Wultz lost his spleen and a kidney in the attack. On Friday, one of his legs was amputated and doctors at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital have reportedly been fighting to save his other leg, which is suffering from severely reduced blood flow.
Wultz’ father, Tuly, suffered a fractured leg in the attack and is set to be released from the same hospital tomorrow.
Wultz has been lying in a coma in the intensive care unit since the bombing.
Until yesterday – seven days after the attack – Wultz reportedly showed little sign of reflex or movement. He had not opened his eyes at all.
But then his family’s rabbi, Yisroel Spalter of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish outreach movement, put tefillin on the teenager and immediately Wultz opened his eyes, according to the rabbi.
Spalter had flown in from Florida this week to be with the Wultz family. He described the moment yesterday to newssite Shterum.net.
“I started to put the tefillin on his hand and right before our very eyes Daniel opened his eyes and stared at us despite his comatose state. Maybe it was just a reflex, maybe not, but the fact that it happened precisely when the tefillin were placed on his hand shocked us all. Even the doctors were surprised.
“The family members who were present could not hold back their tears and were full of emotions. I cannot describe to you the electricity that flowed through the room then. It was one of the most moving and emotional experiences I ever witnessed.”
Spalter today again put tefillin on Wultz, who soon after opened his eyes again and for the first time began showing signs of communication to his doctors, including blinking his eyes in response to questions.
Tefillin are leather objects with black straps containing biblical verses that are worn on the head and on one arm by Jewish men during weekday morning prayers. The verses inside the tefillin are hand-written by a scribe and consist of the four sections of the Torah in which tefillin are commanded.
One of the main commandments for wearing tefillin comes from the biblical verse in Deuteronomy: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. … Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a frontlet between your eyes.”
Tefillin have been directly connected to war and terrorism, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Lewin, a Tel Aviv rabbi, explained to WND.
A verse in Deuteronomy states, “Then all the people of the earth shall see that the name of God is proclaimed over you and they will fear you.”
The Talmud explains the biblical verse is referring to the donning of tefillin, which contains the name of God.
In response to the verse, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the revered leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, promoted a tefillin campaign in Israel and around the world following the 1967 Six Day War, in which the Jewish state was attacked by several Arab countries.
“After the Six Day War the Rebbe [Schneerson] recognized the power of tefillin and its connection to war against Israel and the desire of its enemies to annihilate the Jewish state, and he started an enormous tefillin campaign,” said Lewin.
Spalter and Wultz’s family have requested people around the world pray for Daniel Wultz. Prayer sessions have been held by Chabad in Florida and by Wultz’s high school friends. Hundreds of e-mail alerts have been sent to the Florida Jewish community and to lists worldwide asking recipients to pray for “Haim Meir Naftali, son of Sara and Yekutiel,” the Hebrew name of Daniel Wultz.
”It’s been tough,” Amy Thorpe of Florida, Daniel’s aunt, told the Miami Herald this week. “We just want everyone to pray for them so that we can see him as he was, shooting basketball hoops with a big smile on his face.”