By Laura Seymour
Hanukkah is over for another year and forgive me for admitting, I’m Hanukkahed out! It was a truly great Hanukkah 2022! However, the many lessons of Hanukkah should stay with us year-round. The “miracle” of the oil is often questioned and there are other miracles throughout Jewish history that some question. The big question is, “What is a miracle and do you have faith in miracles?” The blessing over the Hanukkah candles says, “Blessed are you our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who made miracles for our ancestors in their days in this season.” Are there still miracles today?
Robert Lichtman in eJewishphilanthropy writes: “In any recounting of miraculous events throughout our history, every instance of a miracle was preceded by human initiation. The sea would not have yielded without Nachshon. The Purim genocide would not have been thwarted without Esther. The menorah would have been dark without the nameless priest who enabled a miracle to be drawn into it. G-d does not act alone. Neither do we. Miracles are partnerships between humans and the Divine. The world is laden with miracles bound up like fireworks, waiting for us to make the bold move required to release their power. Some of us may not believe in miracles. But it seems that miracles believe in us.”
At the J, staff members wear a name badge and in the plastic case, I carry these two poems by unknown authors, to remind myself of the miracles around us and our task to keep them happening:
We whispered, “G-d, speak to us”
And a meadowlark sang.
But we did not hear.
So we yelled “G-d, speak to us!”
And, the thunder rolled across the sky.
But, we did not listen.
We looked around and said,
“G-d, let us see You.”
And a star shined brightly.
But, we did not notice.
And we shouted. “G-d show us a miracle.”
And a life was born.
But, we did not know.
So, we cried out in despair,
“Touch us, G-d, and let us know You are here.”
Whereupon, G-d reached down & touched us.
But, we brushed the butterfly away & walked on…
And my favorite message to us all:
Sometimes I would like to ask G-d
Why? Why do You allow
When You could do
Something about it?
So…why don’t you ask Him?
Because I’m afraid that G-d
Might ask me the same question…
Let our message going forward this year be that there are miracles in the world and we have a role in making sure that they happen!
Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.