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In 2014, as the result of a botched surgical operation, which was compounded by the hospital confusing her blood tests with the blood tests of another woman, Hila Baruch died and had a near-death experience. Her near-death experience left her with the knowledge that she is not who she thought she was and that she could no longer continue her work as before. Prior to her NDE, Hila worked in Israel as a courtroom attorney. After her NDE, Hila returned to Earth with three mandates:
1. Repent for past mistakes and make amends (Teshuvah).
2. Use the talents God gave her for holy purposes.
2. Share her near-death experience with others.
While coming to terms with her NDE, Hila discovered that Israel lacked sources of support for NDErs and felt called to create a local IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) chapter to connect with other experiencers, raise public awareness, and provide support for those struggling with the aftereffects of similar episodes. “It’s very natural to get out of the body,” she says, “but getting back to it is another story.”
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“The entire Psalm 121 comes out of me. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. The words spoke through me; I did not feel as though I said them; the words simply spoke through me. I felt as if I were the pure meaning of the words. It was one of the most perfect and amazing experiences in my life because in my life I never felt the pure intent of words without effort. It was as if someone else was speaking and I was just the meaning. As they were bringing me into the Operating Room, I finished saying the Psalm 121. I reprimand the team of doctors who are all in chaos and said to them: ‘Say Amen! Answer Amen!’ . . . after I finished reciting Psalm 121 I said, ‘Hear O Israel The Lord Our God Is One.’ “
“The doctor arrives, Dr Uvruchin . . . He caresses my head and says to me, ‘We will do everything to save you!’ But when he is caressing my head, I feel his hand penetrating my head. I do not feel his hand ON my head, I feel it inside my head. I thought to myself, ‘Wow!’ I felt the essence of his hand inside my head; how he took such responsibility for me and was so concerned for me as if I was his own daughter . . . and I felt all of the kindness and things he had done with his hand. I felt them in my head. And it was simply amazing — it was as if a book of memories of all the kindnesses done with this hand, inside my head. It seemed as though all of this happened in one second.”
“I felt a tingling which went from the bottoms of my feet and preceded to rise upward through my entire body . . . Imagine the love of all the mothers in the world for their children — all of the mothers who ever were, all the mothers alive today and all those who will be — and take all of the love they feel towards their children and compress it inside a bottle and distill the essence of all the world’s love and inject it into the body — this is how I felt these sensations of love. And the sensations . . . felt warm and loving . . . As it rose . . . it removed the sensation in my lower body and then slowly it moved to my upper body, until it got to my head. And when it reached my head, I felt as though my head was the globe of the Earth. That every cell in my head was sparkling and was alive . . . everything existed inside my head. I felt the sky, the stars, the Earth, the rocks, the vegetation, the ocean, humanity, the entire globe was all inside my head. The entire world was inside my head . . . it was simply amazing! I thought to myself, ‘Wow!’ It was like a child who visits an amusement park for the first time who exclaims, ‘Wow!’, when they see something so amazing.”
“From the moment I left the body, I feel perfect peace, love and compassion. I feel as though the moon, the stars, and all of the galaxies — all that exists, and all that escapes my perception, all of it — is embracing me in a mighty hug. Particles in the air love me, but they are not separate from me! They are me and I am everything and yet I am nothing — I am part of one whole, which breathes. Everything breathes as one. The machines in the operating room, the doctors who were there, the entire building, the stars — everything that exists — breathes together, breathing in and out, in and out. And, this breathing has a sound: as if one takes a balloon and breathes air in and lets it out and everything expands and contracts, expands and contracts. I feel as one part of one unified whole which breathes and gives breath.
“I am looking at my body and I have a 360 degree perspective . . . How shall I say this? I had no interest in my body. That is to say, from my perspective, it was part of the scenery, just like the equipment in the operating room. This body was not me! After 24 hours of terrible and unbearable pain, I understand that the pain was imagined! All of the questions I have had during my life: Why we suffer? Why do we live and then die? What is the purpose here? Is there really a Creator of the world, or is this just what they taught me? All of the questions that had perplexed me, from an early age, at one instant were at a level of simple knowing. I simply knew the answers . . . The body laying there, from my perspective, was no more than a coat. Thank you for keeping me warm during the winter. Thank you for being here, but you are not me, I am here! I had no connection, I enjoyed so much. Even ‘enjoyed’ is not the proper word. It is very difficult to explain this . . . I am just trying to describe an experience for which there are truly no words. I felt that I was love . . . It is a sensation of unity and eternity. There is no time there . . . I was there for an eternal eternity. In reality, it was only a matter of a few minutes in Earth time, but from my perspective it could have been 200 million years or a billion years, they are both the same thing because there is no time. There, I experienced eternity . . . I felt as though I had come home.”
“I am standing there and in front of me are three men, righteous individuals (Tzadikim) who were all like my grandfather. They so loved me! All of them loved me. In back of me, were thousands upon thousands of souls . . . when I drive my car and stopped at the crosswalk and someone passed by — that soul was there!! All of the souls were there . . . I felt this love and those Tzadikim who were there, when they looked at me, I could not handle the light. I did not possess the vessel to handle the intensity of the light. I simply did not have any tools. I felt as though I was a worm, literally! In the past year, I began to read the Psalms . . . I noticed a verse which states, ‘I am a worm and not a man.’ This amazed me because I felt like a worm; I felt unable to accept the light because I was simply a worm.
“There was a curtain, and on this curtain, I saw all of my life — from the moment of my birth; the stages of my mother’s birth pangs while giving birth to me, and all of my life. In this experience, I was the viewer, I was watching this movie, but all of the actors I see in this movie, if there was one who I harmed, I felt what I had done to harm them. It was as if I had harmed myself. I judged myself! No one there judged me — not the Tzadikim who sat in front of me, not any of the souls who were behind me. I felt as though I was the only one judging.
“In actuality, I studied law. My plan was to eventually become a judge. I always fought for justice, but I channeled things to improper places, because above justice there is shalom/peace. I lost my way. When I saw the story of my life, I felt I was being fooled. However, no one was fooling me, I fooled myself because in the life I had lived, I felt that I was a very important woman. I am a lawyer. I appear in court. I was everyone’s pillar of strength. I felt as though I was someone very important. That was the storyline of the life I lived. The storyline they showed me was all of the times when I asked questions, specifically those times, very brief moments, when I was in front of the Creator trying to understand: Is there a Creator? How was the world created? All of the internal questions or things regarding kindness, for instance. All of these things were there. This is the true storyline of my life and not all of the other things I did. Moreover, even though they call this place Bet Din (a rabbinical court of Judaism) — it was Bet HaRachamim — The House of Mercy! I felt as though this place was the house of mercy.
“One of the interesting situations in my life that was examined there was when I was a practicing attorney for 1.5 years. I worked at a very successful office. One of the female lawyers was having contractions and had to quickly leave the office. They said to me, ‘Listen, there is a court appointment today and you must fill-in!’ — in an instant, without preparing without anything! I take the folder, go over it before we appear in front of the court . . . It was not even my department as this was the banking department and I never even dealt with these things. And I find myself in the courtroom, in front of man who is over 80 years old; a man who endured the Shoah/Holocaust. He has vascular disease and receives money from Social Security as a benefit. I am the youngest one there that only a few days prior finished law school, and I have to extract money from him. Not to go into the details of what transpired, but he signed to be a guarantor and I am the one who is assigned to extract money from him.
“I arrive at the courthouse and I see the age of this man and I see how thin he is and I ask him, ‘How do you buy food? From what money do you buy food?’ And he lifts his shirt and shows me how thin he is and he did not even get angry at me, that I, the attorney, the young girl who was trying to extract money from him; he did not even get angry at me for causing him grief. I wanted him to be angry with me. I wanted this! He had no taste to life . . . This finished me! I said, ‘This is why I studied Law? Not for this!’ I immediately felt like I was going to cry. I held his hand — I was supposed to extract money from him — I did not care for protocol and I did not care if my bosses would see this. I did not care! There was a judge who was merciful and kind but I was so tormented and kept holding myself back from crying. I wanted the Earth to open up and swallow me. I cannot be here! I was intensely ashamed to be in this situation. After this court appearance, I did not come back to the office for two weeks. I was literally sick. Shabbat came in between, but this deeply affected me. I could not eat and lost several kilos in these weeks. It hit me very hard and I was deeply embarrassed. My grandfathers were very close to me. This man was my grandfather’s age and I asked myself, ‘How did I get into this situation to do such a thing?’ I beat myself up for years because of this situation, although I returned after two weeks and wrote a letter of resignation . . . I was mortified by this and thought this was one of the worst things I had done in my life. I could not come to terms that I was in that situation.
“When they showed me this incident, they showed me that it was intended for me, specifically, to be there. It was exactly planned that I was going to be in the courtroom that day. I was the one destined to help bring out the mercy for this man — [and yet] I judged myself throughout those years, beat myself up, and was greatly embarrassed of this dark stain. Even if you thought I was a good person, I would have thought to myself, ‘Yes, but you don’t know what I did in court in the situation I was in.’ I felt it sullied me. I was mortified and I judged myself. But, when they showed this to me . . . to demonstrate that it is all mercy/Rachamim and everything was perfectly planned for me to be there and bring about mercy for this man . . . they viewed this with mercy; that it was perfectly planned . . . No one judged me! And the true storyline of my life was not what I thought it was or what I planned. It wasn’t even marginal. It was just scenery. Why did I feel so much like a worm? Because I felt so irrelevant. I identified so much with the fake identity, I felt the fake identity was who I really was in that life. And this difference between who I knew myself to be now compared to who I thought I was . . . this caused embarrassment, this embarrassment tormented me. I felt they were fooling me, but no one was fooling me. I was fooling myself. The experience expanded my entire life and renewed it. And to also understand the people who harmed me, and be in their shoes . . . to see where they are coming from, then all of my judgements reversed . . .
“The screen went up into the ceiling after they showed me my life and the Tzadik who sat on my left he looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing here? You don’t need to be here!’ “
“There is not a chance that I am returning [to Earth], nope! It does not interest me at all — I am simply not returning under any circumstance! . . . All that I saw in the movie of my life — the one thing I could say is that it is not me — and this would not have been a lie, it is the greatest truth. Because, here I am! This is who I am now, that [my body on Earth] is not me. It is like a suit I put on, or a mask, and I thought I was the mask, but it is not me . . . I tell him [the Tzadik] that I want to go upward, I’m not returning! . . . I was awakened from the dream, so now you are going to return me to the dream state? What the heck? I am not returning! I have arrived Home! This Tzadik explained to me that it was not my time. He was very much like my grandfather — there was a great love! He said, ‘It is not your time, it is simply not your time.’ . . . They explained to me that I have not completed my job, the job of my soul. The other option available was that I [could go to another place] . . . not certain how to categorize this. It is like a passage way between worlds, where I would be for a period . . . [Then], after recovering, I would return to the Earth plane and begin again in a new incarnation. When I heard this as the only other option, and that I wouldn’t be going upward, I chose to come back to this body as opposed to starting all over again.”