Gratitude for Miracles

On Israel’s Highway 40 South to Bahad Echad, the IDF Officers School, Jon and I stopped with my in-laws at Sde Boker, the burial site of David and Paula Ben Gurion.

As we looked out over the awe-inspiring desert view, I thought of David Ben Gurion’s words: In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.

His words seemed to apply to me directly in that moment. Of course, he was speaking of the entire endeavor of Zionism. And I was only thinking about my own unshakable plan to be at Josh’s graduation from Officers School on June 20. Is it true? Was I in Israel thanks to a miracle?

I have decided that the answer is yes and no. Let me explain.

Josh had a large cheering section at the graduation: family, friends, his host parents from kibbutz, and my cousins.

When I expressed gratitude to my cousin Elchanan for traveling so far to be with us, he said, “Is it far or is it close from Hoshaya? It just depends on the story we tell ourselves.” He is correct, of course, about the three and a half hour drive from the north to south of Israel. And he is also correct about how we all choose to live our lives.

For me, I understand this period of dealing with cancer according to the story I tell myself. It might be a horrible, unfair trial or it might be a series of many small and large kindnesses. And yes, perhaps even miracles. It just depends on the story I choose to tell myself.

From the very moment of my diagnosis, I was clear to myself and to everyone with whom I spoke that I would be at Bahad Echad on June 20. I was not missing Josh’s Siyyum Kors Katzinim (Completion of the Officers Course).

Bahad Echad

I healed from surgery faster than my surgeon thought possible, and he gave me a clearance to go after just three weeks. My oncologist started my chemotherapy early, scheduling it so that I would be as strong as possible for the trip. My healing has been supported and speeded along by the prayers and energy of family and community. And I have worked hard too, keeping a positive outlook, walking every day and trying to eat even when I did not feel like it.

Perhaps my understanding of how one experiences a miracle is best expressed in a traditional Jewish proverb: “We hope for miracles but we don’t count on them.” My intention was clear and I did everything in my power to bring it to fruition. Next, the kindness and support of others is required. But I believe with all my heart that the final essential element of a miracle is God’s will. God makes miracles happen.

זה היום עשה ה’ נגילה ונשמחה בו

Zeh hayom asah Adonai, nagilah v’nism’cha bo!

This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice in it and be glad.

Shabbat shalom and hope to see many of you at Orangetown Jewish Center this Shabbat as Josh and his grandparents continue touring in Israel.

Rabbi Paula Mack Drill

11 responses to “Gratitude for Miracles”

  1. Linda and David Schept says :

    Mazel Tov on Josh’s graduation. We’re so glad you could be there. Hope to see you soon. Love, Linda and David Schept

  2. Lydia Katz says :

    I cannot get the smile off my face since I heard that you were making it to Israel. Mazal Tov to you, Josh and your whole family. I had faith in you and in God that you would make it. See you on Shabbat!

  3. Joel "Scott" Strauss says :

    Dearest Rabbi Drill. Mazel Tov on the simcha and on your remarkable improvement in your fight against cancer. May Hashem, the Master of all healers, bless you with your complete recovery.

    As always,
    Your beloved friend,

  4. Lesley and Rich Lefkowitz says :

    Dear Rabbi Drill, Mazel Tov on Josh’s graduation. We’re so happy you were able to attend his graduation. We are looking forward to seeing you soon. Love, Lesley and Rich Lefkowitz

  5. Beverly and Alan Wertheim says :

    Dear Drill Family. Mazel Tov on Josh’s graduation. We are so happy you were you able to be there. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Love, Beverly and Alan

  6. Etty segal says :

    Mazal Tov for Yehoshuah and family and refuah Shlema Umehira!

  7. Bonnie Bornstein Fertel says :

    Dear Paula,
    I share a long time friendship with you dating back to before our Synagogue 2000 studies. I share too the world of cancer, a very long continuous cancer tale just celebrating 25 years and my fight continues. I walk in your shoes. I share the love of Eretz Yisrael and the IDF and people that contribute to the strength of the Holy Land. But most important i share so many wishes for good health for you. Mazel Tov to you all !
    Stand tall and vigilant and let’s keep looking for those miracles.
    With love and strength,

  8. Susan and Steve Danow says :

    Your strength is an inspiration to all! Mazel Tov and our best wishes and love!
    Susan and Steven Danow

  9. Rosanne Spadaro says :

    I strive to stay out of God’s way and welcome miracles with open arms. Say yes to as much of life as possible! Beautifully written Rabbi Paula and I agree wholeheartedly. I didn’t doubt for a moment that you would be at the graduation. Keep setting those goals!

  10. Lorraine Spivak says :

    Dear Rabbi Drill, I so admire your strength as well as your courage. For me, I see you as a miracle unto yourself. Love Lorraine

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