all we have to do is open our eyes

Friday, 8 January, 2016 - 3:16 am


Dear Friends,


I don’t know whether the following story really happened, but it’s something that all of us experience – and not infrequently, either:

It was his father’s Yahrzeit, and he was on his way to Shul to say Kaddish. It was late already, davening was about to start, but he couldn’t find a parking space. So he lifted his eyes up to heaven and said, “Ribbono Shel Olam (Master of the World), I am not a religious person, but it’s important to me to say Kaddish for my father. Please, help me find a place to park. If you make a miracle for me and I’ll find a spot, I promise to come to Shul every Shabbos.” All of a sudden, a car parked on his right pulled away from the curb. Great! He now had a place to park. He looked up to heaven again and said, “Ribbono, never mind. I don’t need a miracle anymore, so you don’t have to exert Yourself. Things worked out already – I found a parking space.”


From reading the Pesukim of this week’s Parasha it is clear that the point of the Ten Plagues was not only to punish the Egyptians for what they had done to the Jews; the point was also to teach and educate everyone that the world has a Ruler. “And Egypt will know that I am Hashem,” “So that you’ll know that the land belongs to Hashem,” “And you shall know that I am Hashem.” These are only some of the statements that appear between the descriptions of the various plagues.

There were plagues that were open miracles. They happened exactly the way they were described in Moshe’s warning, without Moshe doing anything. It was not hard to believe in such clear, obvious miracles, because the only explanation for them was that they were the actions of a Supreme Power.

But there were also plagues that occurred after Moshe or Aharon had performed some physical act such as hitting the Nile or the earth, or throwing furnace soot into the air. These occurred in a way that supplied some possible “explanation” that could be used to minimize the miraculous revelation.  

The goal of this was to enable the skeptics (today they are called “the enlightened”) to ascribe the supposed miracle to some natural phenomenon, and to teach them that even things that seem to come about in a natural way, or at least have a possible logical explanation – even those things are a G-dly revelation, a miracle. These are miracles that are obscured by nature.

An obscured miracle demands a bit more in-depth thinking and faith in order to identify it and see it as coming from the power of the Creator. That Jew who was looking for a parking space didn’t understand that someone up there had heard his prayer and had arranged a parking space for him so that he would be able to say Kaddish.

And I ask myself: How many times in our lives do we take everything for granted, and refuse to see that there is Someone up there who is making sure we have a parking space just when we need it?


Sometimes, all we have to do is open our eyes.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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