But I didn't.
Last night, I attended a beautiful class given by Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman on the topic "Where did all the Miracles Go? Why Wonders are a Thing of the Past" (part of the Jewish Learning Institute series). He spoke about the miracles that occurred in Parshas Beshalach, as well as the past few Torah portions, including the 10 plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, the Jews leaving slavery in Egypt. We discussed why miracles of "Biblical proportion" don't occur today. I was quiet the entire class; I was there to learn, rather than share.
But when the Rabbi presented a certain question and the class was quiet, I couldn't help but include "We experience miracles in our day to day lives. Some small, some big. The smaller miracles are no less important or relevant than the bigger ones. If anything, they may be harder to spot, yet I feel they are more often than not more meaningful and long lasting." The Rabbi smiled, and I was quiet again for the rest of the class.
The class was filled with many insightful thoughts, Torah commentaries, and relevant and tangible ideas and notions. We learned that Midrash Milshei states that in the Messianic times, all the festivals will be abolished, except for Purim. I'll be honest, I enjoy Purim. I love dressing up and seeing the smiles on my children's faces, I take pride in reading about Queen Esther's courage and strength, I like exploring unique recipes for hamentashen, and I enjoy bestowing my family and friends with mishloach manot. But I never thought about it as a particularly deep and meaningful holiday. I thought about it as one of the more fun and lively festivals.
Well, was I wrong! How could it be that holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Pesach, Shavuos, and Simchas Torah, would no longer exist, yet Purim would be the chosen one? In the class, we discussed the difference of miracles that exist within nature and those that break out of the confines of nature. Pesach was a miracle outside of nature. I mean, how often do you see a huge body of water split in half? Purim, on the other hand, occurred within seemingly natural circumstances and G-d's name isn't mentioned once in Megillat Esther.
Speaking of everyday occurrences, take birth, for example. Until my son was born, I never considered the miracles that went on during pregnancy, labour, and birth. I took for granted what a tremendous miracle a healthy and safe birth is for a mother and a child. I was naive. I was youthful. I was inexperienced.
And then in a split second, my world turned upside down. My son was born not breathing, with an Apgar score of 1, and needed continuous CPR and then a breathing device, and only to be put on various monitors and machines for almost every single function of his body. The fact that he survived, and not just survived, but is a thriving, active, curious, charming 16 month old is a miracle from G-d. The doctors and nurses in the hospital thought so too. Because the odds were certainly not in our favour. Just because birth occurs daily, doesn't mean it's any less of a miracle than the splitting of the Red Sea. It was Albert Einstein who said that there are two ways to look at life; as if everything is a miracle, or as if nothing is a miracle.
So at 4am this morning, instead of breaking down in tears, I chose to change my lens. I decided to look at my daughter not as a whiny and time consuming preschooler, but as a strong willed girl who doesn't want to miss a minute of action. I decided to view my son not as a screaming baby but as a kind sensitive soul who does not yet have the words to articulate why he is having a hard time staying asleep. And I decided to look at my Shabbos cooking not as a chore, but a blessing that we are surrounded by family and friends who I have the privilege of inviting for Shabbos.
So while the reality of everyday life is hard, raising children is challenging, hosting guests can be hectic; I would rather that than the alternative. Because as I experienced firsthand, the alternative is not pretty. We can choose to see the miracles in our lives, or we can choose to see the difficulties.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful (and miraculous) Shabbos,