Chanukah is about miracles. What is a miracle? According to Jewish thinking, there are two types of miracles: the hidden and the revealed.
Natural miracles; which are hidden – they are around us all the time in some degree if you open your eyes and appreciate what you are really seeing.
If I was to tell you a story: once there was a man who died, and was buried in the back yard. The following year a baby grew out of the grassy area above the grave. You would tell me not only was that gruesome but that is not the way people grow. But that is the way plants grow. So in a sense it is a miracle. Just because we got used to the idea that that is how vegetation grows through the demise of older plants, we think it is natural. But just think of another species of life growing the same way and it is beyond our understanding. G-d can bring life in many ways.
It is a miracle when people cross the street without looking and don’t get hit (I fall into this category more than I would like to admit). I felt it was a miracle last night, when all my kids, those who live with us (not the marrieds), humored me and joined us in our little Chanukah party. All actually attended, paid attention and even played the games I had prepared. That was a miracle too.
Then there are blatantly revealed miracles. Daniel Cohen was nearly beheaded and stabbed in his face, chest, shoulder and stomach by a terrorist earlier this past month in Jerusalem. During a 4 hour operation the surgeon discovered a tumor in his large intestine which had been undetected. They proceeded to take out the tumor saving Daniel Cohen’s life twice.
In the Gemorah it said people who live in Israel serve G-d and those who live in chutz l’aretz (outside of the land) are like serving idols. A shocking powerful statement. How could it be that the guy who lives on some shomer atzir kibbutz which is against anything religious; who has a beer party on Peasch or has a pork bbq on Yom Kipper is somehow more connected to G-d than the religious chasid in Boro Park? What does it mean?
If you live in Israel, you feel, know, and serve G-d more than anywhere else in the world. You could be here and miss it, but it would be more like a person has shut down all his facilities trying to ignore the obvious.
In chutz l’aretz you have to try harder. Things work according to the natural way one expects things to work; normal reactions, normal relationships, life in chutz l’aretz just flows naturally. To notice G-d, you need to dig deep and realize babies could come from the grave, just like they come from the depths of a woman’s body. Both are pretty miraculous. No?
In Israel, it isn’t too hard to notice miracles on a daily level. Even way back in 1956, David Ben Gurion stated “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles”.
- When Hamas threw missiles on us last summer many were diverted into open fields sometimes guided by the iron dome. It was revealed later, though, some missiles just changed course with no human help!
- On October 2, this Succot, Eitam and Naama Henkin were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in a drive by shooting. One of the Palestinians “accidentally” shot the other terrorist in his arm, so they left before finishing killing the children as they were originally ordered.
- Last year terrorists came out of a tunnel which had been dug when the fields had been thick with wheat stalks. Yet when they came out for a planned killing, the fields had just been cleared early because of the approaching shemittah year which would forbid farmers to harvest their produce. They were seen and neutralized on the spot.
- At a Shemittah program I just attended; many miracles were told by the farmers. But one story explains the whole idea of how to see miracles:
One of the farmers who is already 70, took on the mitzvah of Shemittah, the first time this past year and felt he was not only protected, but was blessed in everything. Yet right after Rosh Hashannah as he was starting to prepare his fields to go back into a growing mode; he fell off a roof of his barn.
Laying on his back with broken ribs, he was asked: “After keeping Shemittah this past year, and now when it is finally time to go and start growing you are here lying on your back. Weren’t you promised blessings? What do you think?”
“How many 70 year old men do you know has fallen off a roof; and is here to talk about it?”
Happy Chanukah – see the miracles.