Almost everyone is familiar with the story of the miracle of Chanukah, that the Hasmonians found a vial of pure oil with the seal of the High Priest with just enough oil to light for one day, and miraculously it provided enough oil for eight days. Those eight miraculous days were chosen as the eternal symbol to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah - the eight day long Festival of Lights, where we light the Menorah each evening, publicizing the miracle God performed some 2000 years ago.
So much emphasis is given to the miracle of Chanukah, however, that we understandably lose sight of the multitude of other miracles that have occurred, and continue occurring, throughout Jewish history. It is with that in mind that I undertook a three-year research sabbatical in preparation for my upcoming scholarly tome, "I Got Your Jewish Miracles, Right Here!" Don't let its scholarly title put you off, though. It's a very user-friendly, illustrated, pop-up book, with an introduction by Shlomo Gibble, my former mohel. Here is a selection of Jewish miracles from the book.
Enjoy my new book: "I Got Your Jewish Miracles, Right Here!"
The Miracle of the Unfinished Matzoh Brei
On July 12th, 1932, nine year old Sarah Fleisher, of East Orange, New Jersey, informed her parents that she was full and therefore unable to finish eating her breakfast of matzoh brei. Fully half the meal remained on her plate. Shockingly, Sarah's parents excused their daughter from the table without either of them informing her of the existence of children in China that don't have matzoh brei at all. When Sarah shared this unusual occurrence with her Hebrew school teacher, the teacher informed the New Jersey Rabbinical Council. The Council debated the issue and voted on July 28th to declare it a miracle. To this day, a bronze sculpture of a plate of unfinished matzoh brei adorns the inner lobby of East Orange's Temple Beth El.
The Miracle of the Unspoken Relatives
Picture it: The year, 1478. The small village of Plinsk, Poland. A boy, Mendel Yehudah Zvi, reaches the age of eighteen and stuns his friends at his birthday party. He informs them that despite his having many, many relatives who were far more successful than he, not once did either of his parents compare him unfavorably to them. They never brought up what any of his relatives had accomplished by the time they were the same age as Mendel. They never told Mendel that he didn't know what real suffering and sacrifice was. They never accused him of wasting his time. And most of all, they never thanked God that one of Mendel's relatives was not alive to see what Mendel was doing with his life, because it would surely kill him. All of this spread through the village and neighboring communities like wildfire, and the Polish Rabbinical Consortium declared it a genuine miracle in February of 1479.
Despite having relatives far more successful than he, not once did his parents compare him unfavorably to them.
The Miracle of the Date
Last year, twenty-three year old Karen Jacobson had much to be thankful for. She was stunningly beautiful, had a great job, good health, and a sparkling personality. So it was no wonder that two men asked her out on a date for the same day. She knew she had to make a choice. Both men were twenty-five, good looking and fun to be with. One of the men was an accomplished doctor from a wealthy family. The other was an assistant manager at Weinerschnitzel fast-food restaurant, from a lower middle-class family. Against all odds, Karen chose the assistant manager. Upon hearing of her decision, the Weinerschnitzel family rabbi petitioned the state rabbinical board for miracle status. It was granted just last week.
The Miracle of the Good Furniture
Throughout their young children's lives, middle-class Russian couple Ezra and Miriam Weiss possessed a dining room filled with their "good furniture." Friends and neighbors observed, to their astonishment, that not even one piece of this expensive furniture was covered with plastic sheets to protect it from the couple's young children's food and crayon stains! Even more amazing was the fact that the Weisses allowed their children, as well as their children's friends, to freely sit on the furniture and even eat there. When the children were grown and word got out about this, and about the fact that the furniture was still in fine condition, Moscow's chief rabbis arranged a visit to confirm this for themselves. Upon confirmation, the rabbis ordained the Weisses' good furniture as a modern miracle.
The Miracle of the Beach
For every Jewish family who witnessed this on Jones Beach in New York, on November 3, 1952, it would become indelibly etched into their consciousness. At first, it seemed like some bizarre dream or unbelievable fantasy. Yet there it was happening before their very eyes, so it could not be denied. Mort and Leila Levine actually allowed their children to go swimming less than half an hour after eating! And that was just for starters. While the surrounding Jews observed with their mouths open in shock, the Levine children emerged from the ocean, dried off, and were not made to wear sunblock or t-shirts; nor were they made to sit under a beach umbrella with sunglasses or a hat! Conveniently, two members of the Greater New York Rabbinical Board were three blankets away and proclaimed what they saw to be a holy miracle.