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Parshas Vayeishev

How Does a Nation Survive?

By Rabbi Label Lam

You are the Source of Blessing HASHEM our G-d- Who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this time! (2nd Blessing when Lighting the Chanukah Candles)

At this time: In actuality- now! There is in every year a trace of the miracles that occurred back then, in those days. (Kidushas Levi)

Where might one find a trace of the miraculous nowadays? Here are eight suggestions to contemplate.

1-Rabbi Yaakov Emden wrote in the early 1800’s (Consider how much has transpired since then!): Many have tried to injure us but they were not able to destroy or wipe us out. While all the great ancient civilizations have disappeared and been forgotten-The Nation of Israel who clings to HASHEM is alive today! What will the wise historian answer when he examines this phenomenon without prejudice? Was all this purely by chance?! By my soul, when I contemplated these great wonders of our continued existence, they took on greater significance than all the miracles and wonders that HASHEM, Blessed be He, performed for our fathers in Egypt, in the desert and when they entered the Land of Israel. And the longer this exile extends, the miracle of Jewish existence becomes more obvious to make known G-d’s mastery and supervision over Nature and History.

2-My wife has an uncle that survived seven concentration camps. At his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah he had this to say about the Jewish experience of World War II; “We lost all the battles but we won the war!”

3-The mother of a close friend experienced twice, as a sixteen year old girl, being lined up by the Nazis, before a mass grave they were forced to dig and falling into that pit with all the murdered corpses. Then in the stealth of night, she crawled out from underneath the pile, running naked into the cold, as the bullets from the firing squad somehow skipped over her. She went to Israel after the war and started life again. Alive today she has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren proudly lighting Menorahs this Chanukah!

4-An all American –electrical worker- hard hat- motor bike riding- non-academic type with tattoos on his muscular arms discovered a picture of some rabbinic looking figure in his mother’s attic. He asked his mother, “Who is this?” She told him, “This is your great-grandfather.” He queried, “He’s in our family?” She quipped, “No! You are in his family!” He was stirred to study Torah and today he is a massive Talmud scholar, in his own right and the father of a sizable household.

5-A Russian Jew that had submitted himself to getting his circumcision when he was in his mid twenties and for whom I was his Sandek at the Bris, urged his secular minded older brother to do the same for more than a decade. Last year the older brother came to New York for the Bar Mitzvah celebration of his nephew. It was Chanukah time. He witnessed the children lighting the candles, and something inside him melted. So he acquiesced to his brother’s pleadings and he got a proper circumcision. He danced with extreme joy, at the Bar Mitzvah celebration, claiming all the while he felt completely different. Within a short time, dramatic changes occurred. Now he is looking for a life partner to help him keep Shabbos.

6-In the year 1800, it is estimated that there were 25,000 Jews in the Land of Israel. Now, the number is approximately 6 million.

7-In nine months a newly formed baby grows from 1 cell to 2 trillion cooperative cells. When rapidly replicating, the DNA code is precisely transferred to each cell. After instantly proofreading and correcting the margin of typo- error is about one mistake in 50 million pages!

8-Thinking of my wife I penned this tiny poem: A Flower gently bends- Concrete slabs-Tends a petal ear- To hear angel songs-Amidst a cacophonic roaring panic- In time, the will to live- Overwhelms the desire to oppress And a gentle flower bends Concrete slabs-A nation survives-As a soft young girl from the Bronx lights Shabbos lights- And dreams of the miracle Growing in her heart-Let all that hurry by…pause and wonder- To Whom does a flower stretch? To Where does a candle point? And how does a Nation survive?

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and

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