Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Chanukah doesn't go by in my home without a discussion of the Bais Yosef's question.

The Bais Yosef asks, since the untainted flask contained enough oil to burn for one day, nothing miraculous happened on that first day. The miracle was only the following seven days. So why is Chanukah celebrated for eight days?

I sit near my friend at the Bar Mitzvah. Her baby is with her. He always is - it's hard to find someone to stay with him. As always, the conversation revolves around him. His doctors and therapies, his surgeries, his progress, his needs. And her guilt. What she could have done...what she should have done.

She is tired. And sad. And overwhelmed. And so alone. She waited so long for this baby, and she just wants him to be okay. Is that so much to ask?

But he's not okay. And he never will be. There will be progress, hopefully, but he will never be okay. And some days, that is too much for her to bear.

I play with him while we talk. He's so sweet. He looks at me with big, blue eyes, and smiles. He's almost two, but he looks about half that age. And as I listen to her, I hear strength beneath the pain. She tells me that she was told that before a person is born, he is shown his entire life, with all its challenges, and he agrees to it all. She agreed to this challenge. She knew, and she agreed. And, more importantly, he agreed. He agreed to be born with these special needs. And, somehow, that is a comfort to her.

I went to visit my sister and her new baby in the hospital. He is alert and beautiful and so cute. And he's healthy. And I am aware of how much there is to be grateful for. I know that there is so much that can go wrong, and I understand how miraculous it is when everything is right.

Every year, my children offer new answers to the Bais Yosef's question. But my favorite answer is so simple.

We celebrate for eight days to teach us that even natural events take place only because Hashem wants them to. The burning of oil is no less miraculous than would be the burning of water. The first day's lighting is to remind us that even the normal burning of oil is a miracle.
Even natural events are miraculous.


  1. My mother always says this: "All that matters is that a baby is healthy."

    When I was in high school, the morah once asked us to write down what is the most important thing. I wrote down what Ma always says.

    It turned out this morah had a child that died in utero.

    The secret to a happy life is perspective.

  2. This is incredible. You moved me and I appreciate that. Your posts are worth waiting for!!

  3. That was really beautiful...

    It's so so true. I appreciate my own baby's health so much more because I've been through having a sibling with special needs. Every time he smiles or reaches a new milestone, I think "my sister was slow to do this" or "my sister never got this far."

    Thank You Hashem that he's healthy...

  4. Yay, a new Mystery Woman post!

    It is true; all of the regular, normal things in life are referenced to in the brachos we say every day, and we thank and praise Hashem for them.

  5. I heard so many answers to that question, but I don't think I ever heard that one. I like it!

  6. Great answer. It sort of ties in with this http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14933&st=&pgnum=379.

  7. So, so much. Everything here is so much truth. My youngest played a make-believe game with me today. At age 3. Because she wanted to. And nobody had to teach her how. The fact that people are able to learn things... so many miracles.

    May both your sister and friend have nachas from their babies, in their own ways.

  8. Princess...

    I agree with that. When I hear people wishing for a boy or a girl, or hoping the baby doesn't have red hair, all I can think is...let it just be healthy!


    Thank you!


    I don't think I had that same appreciation when I was younger. I think it was only as I got older that I began to really appreciate what I have and what a miracle it is.


    You make me want to post more often... Thank you!


    This one's my favorite!


    Er...can we get something in English?

    Staying Afloat...

    Welcome back!

    Amen...thank you. That's a beautiful bracha.

  9. That’s so cool that both of us chose the same answer for our Chanukah posts…and went along similar lines of thinking…we must think alike :)

    That is was written so beautifully.

    It made me think of when I’ve gone to see a doctor for the first time and asked to fill out a form with all my personal information. I had to check off if I’ve ever had diseases whose names I can’t pronounce or have never heard of. It amazes me every time. This is something to be so thankful for…health is such a gift. I should carry this list in my pocket and look at it from time to time just to realize how much I have to be grateful for...

    Chanukah’s over but I hope yours was happy!

  10. Devorah...

    Or all those things they test for before a baby is born. There's so much that can go wrong...and when it doesn't, it's such a miracle!

  11. As Chanalesings said, "Your posts are worth waiting for!!"

    Beautifully written as always. And a wonderful dvar Torah. Thanks for sharing.