by Yehudis Fishman


Every so often-maybe even once in a lifetime- a person merits seeing an open miracle. Every twenty eight years, there is a mitzvah that a person can do, at most, perhaps three times in a lifetime. Every so often, a teacher has the good fortune to go to a student’s wedding in the old city of Jerusalem.

Twenty eight years ago, in 1981, I was blessed with all three.

Clear Miracles? ‘Not nowadays’ friends say. ‘Not in this day and age-not to anyone I know.’ Wrong! On a trip to Israel, to attend the wedding of one of the most gifted students I ever had, it ‘happened’ to fall out a few days before the famed ‘Birkat Hachama,’ the blessing of the sun when it reaches the same place it was in on the fourth day of creation.

It was a challenging time for me. Not only was it a few days before Pesach, I was in the midst of divorce proceedings. I did not have children of my own, but my students were like my children, so when the opportunity to go to the wedding came up, I could not refuse. I could also not turn down the chance to stay a few days extra to participate in this unique event at the holy Western Wall.

The scene was surrealistic. Literally wall-to-wall people-about one hundred and twenty thousand!- streaming to the Wall from 4:30 am on! Young, old, infants, octogenarians, secular Israelis shoulder to shoulder with men wearing black coats, fur hats, and long side-burns. Many of the latter were carrying the latest technology of those years- camcorders.

The rabbi who guided the prayers was standing on the staircase opposite the wall, getting ready to lead the waiting masses in the psalms and blessing to acknowledge the sun as it ‘came home.’

One problem. Sunrise was due any moment, but the sky was heavily overcast. Like the monthly blessing over the new moon, you cannot say the blessing until you actually see the sun.

The natives were getting restless.

At the first glimmer of morning, the head rabbi decided to slowly begin reciting the psalm that preceded the actual blessing. He finished the first round, but nothing happened. He began again. Still, no trace of the sun was noticeable. Finally he tried a third time. Like the prayer of Kol Nidrei on Yom Kippur, the voices got louder and louder. The hills around Jerusalem seemed to tremble.

Then, upon completion of the third round, something amazing took place. I would not have believed it, had I not been an eye witness. The clouds that had filled the sky condensed together and began forming a heart shape. Not the physical form, but the modern, Hallmark card variety.

And from between the exact center of the two sides of the ‘heart’ a light appeared. It got brighter and brighter till it arose like a crown on top of the heart. It came up from the direction of Har Hazeitim, Mount olives, where so many righteous Jews are buried. It’s as if those holy souls banded together to lift the sun beyond the clouds.

The head rabbi bellowed out the blessing, and a thunderous Amen reverberated throughout the area. I was sure the echoes were also heard throughout the world. When the blessing was complete, just as methodically and miraculously, as if on cue, the sun sank back into the heart shaped clouds. Much of the crowd broke out singing and dancing. I was with another student of mine at the time and we just squeezed each other’s hand and wordlessly gasped.

Now it is 28 years later. I have just attended the wedding of another student--a woman whom I began to teach about Judaism in Boulder about ten years ago. She couldn’t yet get into daily prayers but was intrigued with the concept of Netilat Yadayim, the daily hand washing ceremony immediately upon awaking. She started to practice that daily mitzvah and now she is a prominent member of the Denver Jewish community and learning Torah many hours a week--and praying every day.

May we all be blessed to experience many weddings, as well as open miracles over the next twenty eight years, above all in Jerusalem, and especially the biggest celebration of all- the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our days.


Yehudis Fishman has been teaching Torah and Chassidus for over forty years to students of all ages and backgrounds both on the east coast and the Midwest (and also at Ascent in "the early years"). She has been a director of several Jewish organizations in Santa Fe and Colorado. Her articles, and poetry on a wide variety of Jewish interest have been printed in many publications as well as on the web. She currently resides in Boulder Colorado where she is known as ‘Morah at large.’

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