Time went by. Once the Jewish festivals were over, the gray monotony of winter began. Every winter in Chiali was cold and miserable, but that year the weather was particularly awful. Snow and hailstorms constantly raged, and there was an icy wind that penetrated right through to the bone. Even the local residents, who were used to the harsh climate, said that this was the coldest winter in thirty years. Some anti-Semitic elements even blamed the Jewish exiles for bringing the harsh weather with them to Chiali.
Rebbitzen Chana found out about a Jew who repaired stoves and asked him to install a stove in her lodgings for heating and cooking. As bricks were hard to come by, Rebbitzen Chana carefully gathered as many as she could find until the stove could be installed.
Unfortunately the stove did not effectively solve their problems. If anything, it was more trouble than it was worth. To begin with, it was almost impossible to find any fuel. Moreover, the landlady used the same chimney for her own stove and when both were alight the smoke would come through into Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s room. It would creep through every crack in the wall and the whole house would be full of thick black soot. Sometimes the landlady lit her stove at its highest heat just to be spiteful and inconvenience her tenants.
Naturally, the cold weather and the smoky stove had a very negative effect on Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s health. During that winter, typhus and malaria raged through Chiali. It was hardly surprising that Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, whose resistance was low to begin with, soon contracted malaria.
One of the other exiles was a Christian doctor who befriended Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. When it was necessary, he disguised himself and came out in the middle of the night to examine him, and even though it was illegal he wrote out a prescription for him without signing his name. The local pharmacist, who also respected Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, supplied him with the prescribed medication even though this was also against the law. With their help, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok miraculously recovered two weeks later.