“About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” — 2 Kings 4:16
The Torah portion for this week, Vayeira, which means “and he appeared” is from Genesis 18:1—22:24, and the Haftorah is from 2 Kings 4:1–37.
In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the prediction of Isaac’s birth, Sarah’s incredulous reaction, and then Isaac’s actual birth. In the Haftorah portion, we read about Elisha’s promise to a Shunammite woman that she would finally become a mother. Like Sarah, the woman had been barren until that moment, and she had a hard time absorbing the news. But, as predicted, she welcomed her son exactly one year later.
Both stories teach us about faith in miracles, but the story of the Shunammite woman goes one step further. First we learn about the unlikely birth of her son, and then we read about his unexpected death. Next, we read about his miraculous return to life again. A double miracle – the second even greater than the first! But do you know what’s really unusual? While the Shunammite woman was skeptical when she heard about her son’s imminent birth, she appeared entirely confident that he would return from the dead!
Now, we’ve heard many stories about women who were told that they wouldn’t be able to have children, and then they miraculously did. This has happened from the time of the matriarchs until today. But resurrection of the dead at that point was yet unheard of. However, the Shunammite woman was calm and confident when her son died in her arms.
She placed him in bed, informed her husband that she was going to the prophet, and calmly informed Elisha that he had to make good on his promise. She had full confidence in the prophet and in God, and she was rewarded with the boy’s return to life. How did this woman go from doubting the possibility of birth to firm faith in the possibility of resurrection?
The answer is that when the woman experienced the first miracle –the birth of her son – she learned to believe in all miracles. To God, there is no difference between a minor miracle and a show-stopping, major, miraculous display. He can perform either just as easily. So the woman reasoned, if God could do one miracle, what’s to stop Him from doing another?
We all need to learn to think as she did. Faith unleashes miracles.
It’s not always easy to maintain perfect faith, but take strength from miracles that you have experienced in the past. Here’s one miracle that we’ve all experienced: You were born! Taking into account the likelihood of conception and the chances of miscarriage, it is entirely miraculous that any of us are here at all! Do you have kids? That is even more miraculous!
We have all been blessed to experience the miracle of life. So let us never lose faith that God can perform even more miracles in our lives.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President