Torah Musings: We Are All Walking Miracles


We Are All Walking Miracles

Sarah Pachter

I recently asked this question to my students: “Have you ever experienced a miracle and realized that if not for that miracle, you would not be here today?”

After a few moments of contemplating, most responded, “Not that I can think of…” However, after sharing my own experience with them, their stories came pouring forth. We all looked at each other and realized that every person in the room was a walking miracle.

The following is the story I shared with them.

It was a sunny day in Woodmere, New York, where we lived at the time. The date was December 24, 2008. Our son woke from his afternoon nap later than usual, so we had to rush out of the house to make it to the local Chabad’s “Chanukah Wonderland” activity.

They had rented out an entire storefront, and although the venue was huge, it was packed – so much so, that the line to get in was forming down the street. We parked and waited quite some time to enter the bazaar. Since our two-year-old was getting impatient, the wait felt like an eternity.

Finally, our turn was next. At precisely the moment we reached the entrance desk, the woman excused herself to use the restroom! “I’ll just be a minute,” she explained apologetically. After she returned, she told us the amount they were charging for entry, and I fumbled to find our checkbook in my huge diaper bag. At the very bottom was my checkbook, drenched in liquid from my son’s sippy cup! Unbeknownst to me, his milk had been leaking through the bag and had even soiled my skirt! Yuck!

We quickly paid cash, and then I calmly paused, took off the bag, and did a quick wipe down. After everything was clean, we could finally enter.

My husband held our son in his arms and began walking towards the moon bounce that our toddler was pointing to excitedly. As they walked ahead, something caused me to stop. Unexplainably, my feet planted, and I couldn’t bring myself to move. When my husband realized I was not with him, he hesitated, turned around, and took a few steps to walk back to me.

At that moment, it happened: In exactly in the spot my husband had been standing with our son, a huge, bright blue SUV came bursting through the glass wall of the storefront and continued driving into the Chanukah Wonderland. The car sped right past my husband’s arm, knocking everything down in its path.

If I wanted to know what a post-bombing scene looks like, that was it. People ran out of the car’s way at inhuman speeds. In milliseconds, the room emptied. After making sure my son and I were out okay, my husband went back in to pick up a toddler that was being trampled on by adults and brought her outside to safety.

We were sure it was a terrorist’s attack, targeted at Chabad. After all, it happened just weeks after the Chabad of Mumbai incident.

It turns out, it was not an attack at all, but rather an accident caused by a 76 year old man. The carpet in his car got twisted between the pedals as he was frantically trying to push on his brakes. The carpet under the pedals was so twisted that the more he pressed firmly on the brake, the more the rug pushed harder on the accelerator – hence the power with which he drove through and shattered the glass storefront.

Miraculously, no one died from the incident. A friend of mine was sitting in a seat rocking her baby in the stroller to her right. She picked up the baby to nurse and moments later the car drove into the stroller, causing it to fly in the air. She too missed the car’s wrath by less than two feet.

One man was run over by the car, and it took the strength of twelve people to lift it off him. He was injured, but eventually recovered.

Chanukah was certainly filled with miracles that year.

I often think of all the small inconveniences of that day that ended up saving our lives. Our son slept later than usual, and we waited an extraordinary amount of time in line. The woman who happened to need to use the restroom. And milk spilt on my leg. Had we already been inside even moments before, we could have been injured, or worse. All these moments of delay that we were initially annoyed about ended up saving us.

Think about this story next time you are involved in an inconvenient delay. The detour, the missed flight, the long wait in line could all be preventing you from being elsewhere, and that might not be a bad thing. Try to take on an attitude of gratitude for “what I could be missing” instead of acting annoyed by the inconvenience.

A positive internal message is: “I am precisely where I am supposed to be at this moment.” Or, “I was not supposed to be there at this moment, and maybe it has prevented something else from happening.” I’ll take inconvenience over disaster any day.

A similar story happened to my grandfather during WWII. He was fighting for the American Army on the ground in France. They reached a house with a white picket fence and marigolds all around. The house looked serene and seemed to be a perfect place to hide for safety. Little did they know it was a decoy, and it hid land mines laced with bombs throughout the property. My grandfather experienced a premonition of danger and did not want to open the picket fence. Despite his commander’s orders, he simply refused to obey. His refusal saved his life, for the moment it was opened, the bomb was activated. I am here today, along with my children and hundreds of cousins, aunts, and uncles – his life being saved enabled the birth of hundreds of descendants! Truly, when one person’s life is saved, an entire world is saved.

Every Jewish person reading this article is a testimony to Hashem’s master plan. The ancient Egyptians would have loved to wipe every Jew off the planet. The crusaders wished to destroy us, but we survived. According to the Nazis, we aren’t supposed to be here.

Yet, walk into any Jewish day school, and you will find vibrant children in the classrooms laughing, singing, and learning Torah freely! Despite all odds, we are still here, all of us walking, breathing miracles.