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Seeing the Light . . . and the Hand of G-d Everywhere

Seeing the Light . . . and the Hand of G-d Everywhere

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Lag BaOmer is a holiday I didn’t know much about growing up. I’m not even sure if I celebrated it until the year I came to Israel to study at the age of 21. That year the holiday happened to fall on my English birthday, and my now husband (who at the time was my fiancé) took me to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. There was a special energy in the air that night; I don’t know how to describe it. It was simply electrifying.

I prayed by the Kotel and made my way to the main plaza to wait for my fiancé to finish praying. There was a special energy in the air that night I looked over to the men’s section. From what seemed like nowhere, a group of men lit a very big fire (what turned out to be a bonfire), linked arms and started to dance around the flames. That sight—the light of the fire contrasted against the darkness of the night—captivated me. I spotted my fiancé amid the dancers. My first Lag BaOmer. It was beautiful, but it wouldn’t be for many years until I really understood the reason behind the energy I felt.

Fast-forward 16 years. Again, it’s Lag BaOmer time. The children have the day off from school, and all the museums are open and free for the day. My husband leaves early with my eldest son on a bus to go the kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. I take the rest of the kids to the science museum in Jerusalem, where we live. The streets are still simmering from the bonfires of the night before. It’s May. It’s hot.

We walk back home from an educational and entertaining morning of blowing bubbles and looking at ourselves in funny mirrors. We’re almost in front of our home when we spot it. A small car suddenly caught on fire. Flames leap up from underneath the wheels. I stop, shocked, not sure what to do. Is that really a fire? Am I imagining it? It’s harder to tell in the daylight than in the darkness of night. I quickly take my phone out of my purse to call the fire department, but all of a sudden, a small minivan that just “happened” to pass by stops abruptly. The driver jumps out with a mini fire extinguisher. He puts out the flames, gets back in the car and continues along his way.

I stand there with my children, still in shock. We turn to each other. Did you just see that? How many people carry fire extinguishers in their car? How many drivers would stop and help? And what about the small car that just a minute ago was on fire? It looks fine now. Will the owner ever know what happened? Will the owner ever know the Divine Providence that we witnessed?



There was a rabbi named Shimon who had a son named Elazar. They lived during the time of the Roman occupation of Israel. The Romans accused Rabbi Shimon of treason and wanted to have him killed. Rabbis Shimon and Elazar, having no choice, ran away and hid in a cave. During this time, G‑d performed a miracle for them. HeHow many people carry fire extinguishers in their car? created a sweet water spring for them to drink and a carob tree for them to eat. For 12 years, G‑d sustained them miraculously. These two great rabbis clearly saw the Divine Providence in their lives. They took advantage of their situation, using it to learn Torah day and night. When the 12 years ended, they heard that the Roman Caesar died nullifying the decree. They stepped out of their cave and their miraculous world of being directly “nursed” from G‑d’s “hand.” These two great men saw simple farmers and hunters working hard to gather their food. The world of these farmers suddenly seemed so mundane and far from G‑d’s Providence. With their fiery eyes, the two rabbis burned every field they saw. A Voice cried out from the Heavens: “What are you doing destroying My world? Go back to the cave!”

A year went by of more learning and reflection. This time, when they came out of the cave, what do our sages relate to us? They saw hunters trying to trap birds. Rabbis Shimon and Elazar heard a Voice from Heaven declare: “Rescue and release,” and one of the birds went free. Another time, they heard “caught”; another bird was trapped.1 Rabbi Shimon now saw the world differently. Now it was understood that everything is Divine Providence. Sometimes, like with a fire in the night, we can see it; other times, like a light in the middle of the day, it’s more difficult to notice.



I started a new tradition. At Friday-night Shabbat dinner, each family member (from age 5 on up) describes an incident during the week when they experienced Divine Providence. At first, it took time and a little racking of the brain to think of something. It was like trying to see the fire under that car on a hot May day in Jerusalem. As time went by, and the more we spoke about and looked for it, the more each of us saw instances of Divine Providence in our lives. It began to illuminate everything, like a burning bonfire in the dark of the night.

Just yesterday, a Tuesday, I mentioned that we ran out of bread—a staple here in Israel for school lunches. My 6-year-old turned to me and said: “Tomorrow morning, we’re having a special lunch in school. The teacher told us not to bring sandwiches. Mommy, what Divine Providence!”

This morning I went shopping with my toddler and 12-year-old son. We had shopping bags, a carriage and one very tired small child. Originally, I planned on walking home; however, my toddler refused to get into the carriage—and he also refused to walk.I finally understand what it is I need to tap into Just at that moment, a friend I haven’t seen in years drove by. She stopped her car and gave us a ride home. My son turned to me and said: “Mommy, what Divine Providence!”



Divine Providence . . . sometimes it’s hidden, and sometimes it’s revealed.

This year, as we take our children to dance around the bonfires on the eve of Lag BaOmer, I finally understand what exactly it is that I need to tap into. I watch the flames raging high, so beautiful in the night, and I say a little prayer that my eyes should always be open to seeing the light.

Footnotes
1.
This part of the story is found in the Jerusalem Talmud (Sheviit 9:1).
Originally from northern California and a Stanford University graduate, Elana Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. She is a doula, massage therapist, writer, and author of Dancing Through Life, a book for Jewish women. She also teaches Jewish marriage classes for brides.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Nancy Pierce May 19, 2017

Thank you for this beautiful story. It has reminded me to stop and think of all the Devine provinces that G-d has done for me this week. Shabbat Shalom Reply

Vivienne May 13, 2017

Insightful and wonderful story, regarding the Rabbis and His divine providence around us daily, even more so if we take more time to notice. Reply

Abigael Carter Georgia, USA May 12, 2017

What a beautiful article. Your articles bless me tremendously Elana. Thank you. And thank you for the reminder to spend more time in the cave. Reply

Ravi Sastry India May 10, 2017

Amazing. My divine providence is breath HaShem (God) gives me daily. Reply

jim dallas May 7, 2017

powerfully wonderful writing conveying an immense and outrageous reality in our midst....meanwhile, back in the cave for a bit more study, i'm not as young as your kids...what divine providence! Reply

Suboda SL May 15, 2017
in response to jim:

True true! Reply