Most people envision a miracle as something out of the ordinary. As an example, if one miraculously recovers from a terminal illness in which the doctors gave him/her only hours to live. The doctors are baffled and can’t understand how this could happen but the people all proclaim that it is a miracle. Often we look at our history and identify those special occurrences when we see openly the hand of G-d as a miracle – the splitting of the sea, or the plagues against the Egyptians.
However, we rarely associate those every day wonders that transpire in our lives as a miracle. Waking up daily and the ability to talk or see or to hear are looked upon as usual occurrences and often taken for granted.
In the city of Chulon in Israel there is a museum which most people refer to as the “Blind Museum.” When you stand on line to purchase your tickets you realize that the proper name of the museum is “A Dialogue in Darkness.”
As you enter the actual museum one becomes a little uneasy as you are explained that for the next one and a half hours you will be walking in total darkness. You can only rely on your sense of smell, touch and you ability to hear. In essence you will be sightless, resembling a blind person. They then distribute your cane which helps you as you move around the surroundings of this museum.
“Don’t worry “they comment. “No one will be hurt and you will be guided the entire way.”
As we entered we were introduced to our guide Yochanan, and we began our experience into the world of the unsighted.
Yochanan commenced by telling us that eighty percent of all our understanding of our world comes from our sight. We evaluate situations and make judgments of people mostly using our ability to see. When one is not sighted one must rely on their other senses to compensate for their loss. Often the sense of hearing, smell and touch of a blind person becomes much sharper as he looks for strategies to experience his environment properly.
During our tour we went into a garden, traveled on a boat, walked down a busy street and entered a bar to order drinks, all the while unable to see-just listening to Yochanan as we were being directed through this remarkable experience.
At the end of our tour we sat down at the bar and Yochanan asked us if we had any questions that he might answer. It was then that we discovered that Yochanan had been blind since he was three years old. Our small group of eight began to ask him penetrating questions, how he was able to overcome such a difficult handicap and how he compensates for his loss.
As the dialogue was proceeding, I realized that I didn’t know any of the participants in my tour. I had no idea how they appeared. Were they tall or obese? Were they old or young? All I heard were their voices! And it dawned on me that I was listening to their true neshamot, their souls. The only conclusion that I could reach was based not on their looks but on their inner essence-were they passionate, bright, compassionate or insightful? I was listening to their souls without the outside stimuli and prejudgment of seeing them and reaching an immediate conclusion.
I have been asked by people as well as my students how they will appear when Mashiach will arrive. Will they appear as old or young? Handsome or beautiful? Frail or strong? But really it doesn’t matter! For our true essence is not how we look but who we are inside and how beautiful our neshamot, souls, are.
As my wife and I left the Museum the light began to shine dimly giving us a chance to adapt to the light that we had not experienced for nearly two hours.
But for Yochanan the darkness continued even as we exited the museum.
It was then that I truly thanked G-d and offered my appreciation for the daily miracles that he bestows on all of us- In this case the beautiful gift of perceiving the majesty of his world.