Today is the eighth day of Chanukah, an auspicious day to write about one of my favorite subjects: miracles. I love when I see them, no matter how small, because they remind me not only about G-d’s sovereignty, but about G-d’s kindness.
It’s a little bit in my nature to see miracles, a by-product of G-d’s creating me a little bit organizationally-challenged. I imagine that organized people just expect things to be in the same place where they put them originally; for me, this phenomenon is experienced as a miracle. Somehow things disappear in my house, then they miraculously reappear. It’s very exciting to live above nature in simple everyday life. Not to mention, I get extra opportunities to talk to G-d when, for example, my husband asks me where I put the folder that had been sitting on the table for six months and now isn’t there.
Seeing miracles also extends into the world. The success of my recent trip to bureaucratic heaven, Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, had me euphoric for an entire day. I could hardly stand it; we got two learner’s permits and a renewed license in just over an hour there.
This was clearly out of the natural order for our family. The natural order for us is that it takes two visits to get even one learner’s permit. I remember one time my mother tried taking someone. (Nope, it has to be a parent or guardian.) Another time, we arrived too late. (Don’t let that 4:45 closing time fool you; everything stops at 4:30.)
But Mendy, who’s 18, was home from yeshiva for Chanukah and he and Rivky, who’s 16, decided at midnight they could just stay up all night studying together if I would take them the next day to get their permits. I happily agreed, as long as Mendy took care of making sure we had all the forms. (Didn’t we once have to try again because we forgot a Social Security card?) Rivky is a minor and Mendy is an adult, so entirely different paperwork is required. Miraculously, I found Rivky’s application that our doctor had filled out months ago when she first thought she might want her license. In a last-minute check, Mendy caught the fact that Rivky needed a parent consent form; the whole way as we drove downtown he was telling her how he saved her from a wasted trip.
But somehow he missed seeing that he needed proof of his residence in Pennsylvania.
No, the red tape wizard told him, if he had read the instructions properly, he would have seen that he needed this document, possibly from a mortgage document or gun license. Clearly, no amount of begging would help. We clarified that a piece of mail addressed to Mendy at our home address was sufficient and we set out on our mission to get it before 4:30.
My husband’s office is across town so we called his assistant to see if she could help. Small miracle, she found a form that was sent to Mendy from his yeshiva. I quickly drove to my husband’s office where she met me on the street and handed me the coveted document. I returned to find a parking place right in front of the building (what, you don’t think parking places are miracles?) and I ran in just as they were calling Mendy’s number.
There’s even a little bit more. I had 60 days to renew my license but thought to bring along the forms just in case there was a way to do it while my kids got their permits. There was and I did. And Rivky and Mendy agreed that I look better in my new license picture. These may just be cherry on the top ones, but I’ll take all the miracles I can get.
Here’s one for you: is it a miracle when you do well on a test that you actually studied for? For the sake of discussion, let’s say that it is: Rivky got a 95 and Mendy’s score was perfect. As they both gushed over their new status, I gave them a heartfelt blessing that they should always drive safely with G-d’s help. I don’t take that for granted–eleven years ago, our oldest son Mordy survived when his car drove through a guard rail and fell two hundred feet down an embankment.
A heart-stopping miracle indeed.
There are big miracles and small ones, everyday ones and ones that get holidays named after them, ones we see and ones that happen without our seeing. But I try to see everything as a miracle because that means I am seeing G-d. My small life is very big to me and it’s in my best interest to experience Him with me every step of the way.
It’s actually what G-d wants, too. He built into the world a Divine force called bitachon, trust, which gives us access to His limitless power. Whether we are worthy or not, G-d wants us to ask Him for revealed good (usually understood as health, wealth and children). This is one of the cornerstones of Chassidic thought, to “think good and it will be good.” Bitachon is designed to be our ticket to true joy and peace of mind.
Like driving, living with bitachon takes practice. And remembering. Not only the documents, but also the miracles.