The head of the internationally recognized Israeli search-and-rescue organization ZAKA was attacked by a lioness while on safari in South Africa, but was saved “by the grace of God.”
Currently in South Africa for a training program with ZAKA volunteers, Chairman Yehudah Meshi-Zahav took some time off to go on safari and see local wildlife, including lions. After he was briefed on how to behave around the wild cats – visitors are instructed not to bend over, kneel, or stroke the lions’ heads, and are asked to carry a stick that the lions are familiar with from feeding time – Meshi-Zahav was allowed to walk with alongside the animals.
He was strolling peacefully beside a large lioness when suddenly the cat turned her head around and unexpectedly pounced on Meshi-Zahav, knocking him to the ground. Locals immediately beat the lioness back with sticks and released him.
“It was absolutely terrifying, for the first time in my life I felt real fear, and the power of the lioness,” said Meshi-Zahav, a press statement reported. “Out of instinct, I grabbed my kippa so that it wouldn’t fly off. I remembered that I shouldn’t fall to the ground, otherwise the lion would attack me. But I could not stand up to sheer strength of the lion.”
Miraculously, Meshi-Zahav was only mildly hurt. He attributed his luck to divine intervention.
“By the grace of God, I was saved. All I needed was a tetanus injection at the local clinic to prevent any infection from the scratches. ”
He said that the lion’s attack had immediately recalled to him verses of the Torah comparing the Jewish people to a lion’s cub.
Yehuda is a lion’s whelp; On prey, my son, have you grown. He crouches, lies down like a lion, Like the king of beasts—who dare rouse him? Genesis 49:9
Meshi-Zahav tweeted a video of the attack which captured the entire incident.
למפרע התברר שהוא קם רק בשביל לחבק אותי pic.twitter.com/PVtvgF5hbT
— יהודה משי זהב (@ymeshiz) November 15, 2017
“Afterwards, it became clear that [she] just wanted to hug me,” he wrote in Hebrew on the post.