Dear Dr. Respler:
The holidays are a great time to learn about ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly – and then try to make lemonade from the lemons, turn the positive into building blocks, and generally create good things from the lessons learned. The Yamim Tovim are saturated with kedushah, leading to beautifully crafted creations from what one learned and experienced during these holy, spiritual days. While some believe that it is only through an actual, seen object that building blocks can be formed, a Torah-based experience can lead to the same result. This Pesach I came to believe that the seemingly impossible is possible and that miracles can happen.
No, I didn’t see Eliyahu HaNavi. No, a large sum of money was not mysteriously placed into my family’s bank account. This is not how I saw yad Hashem. This Yom Tov made me believe that I had, and continue to have, the koach to enrich people’s lives.
I like to think I was born with a good heart, always willing to care for and stand by those who were easy prey. But issues got in the way, making me cynical and angry – putting the aforementioned characteristic on hold. But, Baruch Hashem, a good marriage to a wonderful guy has reconnected me with this good trait, and over Pesach I clearly saw people’s contentment as a result of my heartfelt goodness toward them. To me, that was a miracle.
Prior to our Erev Pesach trek to family for the sedarim, on the way to the garage, my husband and I met up with a woman in our building. A few weeks before, she started to confide in me about difficulties in her life. She is Jewish but not frum, and I realized that she was disconnected from HaKadosh Baruch Hu in a great way. She said that family members were taking advantage of her in a business-related matter and she couldn’t understand why Hashem would allow this to happen. I told her that although it seemed as if these people had the upper hand and that there was no way justice could be meted out, Hashem had wondrous ways of righting things. I then introduced her to a book about emunah that was written for frum and non-frum people alike. So before we left to celebrate Pesach, the holiday that strengthens emunah, she came to me with book in hand, telling me how it was helping her deal with everything going on in her life. She called me her little messenger from God.
Thus Pesach started off on the right foot. Hashem was allowing me to see that I, who had grown cynical about the beauty of helping others, was again able to reach out and touch someone. What a beautiful present.
And on Pesach itself, I was able to continue easing people’s pain. My husband and I visited friends who were struggling spiritually. They were questioning basic tenets of Jewish faith. We were able to say a few things to them that hopefully served as food for thought, leading them in the right direction.
We also came into contact with an elderly frum woman who had complications in dealings with close family and friends. She was tired from preparing for Pesach and bemoaned the fact that they did not truly appreciate her hard work. We made her laugh and helped her to just enjoy the beautiful weather, good food and zemiros that, Baruch Hashem, this holiday was filled with. Watching her unwind and become able to see positive results from her pre-Pesach exertions was miraculous indeed. Prior to Pesach I heard a beautiful, positive thought from a rabbi, on a radio program. He said that Pesach is a time of nissim geluyim (open miracles). Purim was all about hidden miracles, as yad Hashem was revealed through what appeared to be coincidences. Pesach, though, is a holiday of holy days since Hashem saved us with open miracles – the Ten Plagues, the Splitting of the Sea, etc. Therefore, this rabbi continued, we need to recognize that this holiday (and, as I later learned, the entire month of Nissan) is a time when the very thing that one believes to be impossible can often come true – through prayer. There is a spiritual energy during these holy days and we would be remiss not to avail ourselves of this spiritual uplifting. Here’s how I think of it: Hashem built into these auspicious days proverbial treasure chests full of pearls, diamonds, emeralds, gold and silver that are ours for the taking. It would be silly not to partake in this opportunity.
I did not know of this phenomenon until this year; perhaps there are others who also did not know of this. But I want them to know that I made sure to pray for everyone, and I am sure that what klal Yisrael may have believed was beyond possible may indeed happen.Dr. Yael Respler