Living, Breathing Miracles
Yael Eckstein | May 6, 2021
“‘Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’” — Leviticus 26:44-45
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Behar-Bechukotai, from Leviticus 25:1–27:34. Behar means “the mountain,” and Bechukotai means “My decrees.”
Recently, I met with an elderly woman who is receiving assistance from The Fellowship. As she told me her life story, I realized that she was a living, breathing miracle. It doesn’t make logical sense that Olga is alive today, let alone living in Jerusalem.
The first miracle is that Olga’s parents met and married. Olga’s father inexplicably survived a Nazi roundup and mass killing where his entire family perished, including his first wife and children. Olga’s mother was miraculously rescued from a brutal Nazi concentration camp. The two met and married in a Russian ghetto where, shortly afterward, Olga was born.
Living, Breathing Miracles
The second miracle came about when Olga was just a few months old. The ghetto was bombed, and Olga was hurt. She was whisked into hiding with other Jews, but her mother was forced to leave because Olga’s screaming would give them away to the Nazis. Olga’s mother took refuge in an abandoned house where she fully expected to be captured. However, to her surprise, she was rescued by soldiers of the allied armies instead.
Finally, the third miracle to occur is that Olga survived at all. As an infant, she had tuberculosis and typhus. The doctor determined that she would not live beyond a few years. And yet, Olga survived, grew up to be healthy, married, had children and is now living in the land of her ancestors – the land of Israel.
As I met with this remarkable woman and reflected on her life’s journey, it occurred to me that Olga’s story is the story of the Jews in general. Logically, the Jewish people should have disappeared long ago. There is no other country in history that has been exiled from its country and returned to it. The Jews did it twice! Despite two thousand years of exile and persecution, we have returned to our ancestral homeland. We are all living, breathing miracles.
There is only one explanation for the survival of the Jewish people: God Almighty, who promised in this week’s Torah portion that, while the nation of Israel would be punished and exiled, He would not let us be destroyed. And God keeps His promises!