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  • Writer's picturerabbijonathanf

Today's Passover Miracles

Last Saturday night at 2 am as we scampered towards our safe room while 170 suicide drones, 110 ballistic missile and 20 cruise missiles were hurling towards Israel from Iran, we did not know what would be with our safety, with the safety of our fellow Israelis, and with our daughter’s upcoming wedding the next day on Sunday. The whole Jewish world was distraught.  We were actually less worried about our daughter’s wedding because we had decided that whatever the circumstances we were going ahead with the wedding, even if it needed to be in a bomb shelter   We now know that 99% of the missiles misfired or were intercepted, (one Bedouin girl tragically was seriously injured), and the wedding hall let us know by 9 am that they would be open for the wedding that evening.  The next day besides the miracle of the wedding, there were emails going around written by various physicists and munitions experts giving scientific validation to the miracle that no one had been killed by the Iranian onslaught. 

Passover is a time when we remember the miracles of the Exodus.  The Passover Seder and the Haggadah highlight the miracles of the ten plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea with the subsequent destruction of the Egyptian army which was pursuing the Jewish people, and the clouds that accompanied the camp of the Israelites.  We have a special mitzvah to remember and retell the story of the miracles of the Exodus during the Seder.  So why is there such an emphasis upon remembering the miracles, especially when we no longer live in a time of miracles?

But do we no longer live in a time of miracles? If we look at our recent history, the State of Israel was born on miracles.  The War of Independence which we won after the armies of 5 neighboring Arab states invaded a new country the day after it was established was nothing short of miraculous.  The Six Day War in 1967 when Israel was outnumbered and attacked again by its neighbors, and speedily defeated them was nothing short of miraculous.  Of course there are explanations for these events, the fighting spirit of the IDF, the element of surprise, Israel’s better trained soldiers. However, if you just step back, and consider these stories, we realize that the existence of modern Israel defies explanation.  Maybe seas did not split, and plagues did not strike our enemies (although there were pictures of a river in Iran that turned red this week), but for me the unfolding of the Jewish story that we are living is too incredulous to not feel that something that is bigger and beyond us is happening.

For two thousand years Jews have yearned for and prayed to return to our homeland. 

And here we back home in Israel, 7 million strong.  I believe this unprecedented movement of history is part of a Jewish destiny that is greater than us.  This is one of the reasons that my family and I made Aliyah, because wanted to be part of this extraordinary unfolding of the Jewish saga.  The Almighty tells us in the book of Micha: “As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show you my wonders”.  The wonders today may not have splitting seas and Divine plagues, rather they are what Nahmanides calls hidden miracles.  No Divine cloud came and deflected the Iranian missile onslaught, but nevertheless we do not need scientists’ articles to realize that it was miraculous that no one was killed last Saturday night.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks captured this idea when he said that faith is about seeing the miraculous in the everyday, not about waiting every day for the miraculous.

So this Passover at the Seder we will be sharing today’s miracles of the strength of the Jewish people which we have seen emerge after October 7th, the dedication of the young people in the IDF who put their lives on the line to defend Israel, , the mass mobilization of reservists flying back to Israel to defend our country, the unity that emerged out of a fractured society, the mass volunteering, the support from Jews throughout the world, and the resilience of our people before multiple challenges which are all part of this miracle.  And finally the thwarting of the missile attack by Iran.

For me these are all part of the greater miracle that has been ongoing for the past 3000 years, and that has been renewed in our homeland in the last 100 years, and is still ongoing on in 2024.  The larger story is a partnership with the Almighty who promised in the Torah through the covenant with the Jewish people that He would not forsake us.  We say at the end of the Haggadah, “Next Year in rebuilt Jerusalem”, in a Jerusalem that is truly the unified harmony of peace for the Jewish people and for the entire world.  And for us, our daughter’s wedding last Sunday is another personal miracle, one more brick of that eternal edifice of Jewish destiny which is being built right before our eyes.  May this Passover continue to be a holiday of miracles for all of us, for the Jewish people and for Israel.   

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