Over a year ago, on my birthday, I experienced something I can only describe as a miracle. The event took place at the Engedi Waterfall, where I was spending time with my family. There’s no easy way to define it, no logical explanation to dismiss it as a coincidence or an unusually charged moment. Simply put, it was a miracle.
Before that day, my understanding of a miracle was largely academic. I had read about miracles in the Torah, particularly the awe-inspiring miracles that HaShem performed for the Jewish people during Pesach, leading us out of Mitzrayim. However, these events belonged to another time, another place, and other people. It was challenging to personally connect with these ancient miracles, even though our teachings urged us to do so. It’s a work in progress, a lofty ideal worth striving for, but achieving that level of understanding often felt unlikely.
However, on that birthday of mine, I found myself at the center stage of a miracle. Part of me wanted to take credit for it, to bask in the glory that comes with being a protective, nurturing father who would safeguard his children under any circumstance. But in all honesty, I can’t claim it was all me.
We were at the waterfall when a few of my children decided to climb up to the water’s source. I was helping Shirah, who was the most cautious and reserved among the girls attempting the climb, clamber up the edge of the cliff. Above us, about 15 to 20 meters higher on the slippery, mildew-covered rocks, the other girls were being carefree, perhaps a little too much.
Suddenly, I heard a terrified scream. I turned my head and saw my daughter, Tiferes, clinging to a shrub as she teetered dangerously over a steep drop. In that moment, time seemed to warp. In less than a blink of an eye, I found myself at the top, just in time to catch her by her arm as she lost her grip on the shrub.
My heart pounded in my ears, adrenaline surging through me, leaving me shaking and breathless. The protective instincts that propelled me forward didn’t subside until she was back on solid ground, safe and sound. Once everyone was safely in the car, the adrenaline that had been my lifeline drained away, leaving me a spent hulk. For the first time, I noticed my legs and feet were bloodied from the scramble up the cliff. I felt like a tool of divine providence, showing signs of being well used.
Yes, I was the one who caught her, and yes, I somehow made it to her in an impossible amount of time. But in all honesty, I can’t claim any credit for it. To me, that was a miracle, one I am eternally grateful for.
Today, Tiferes, now almost eight years old, occasionally gives me a look that brings me back to that day. In her eyes, I see the same fear and relief that was there when I caught her hand. That look, that unspoken bond, has become a permanent fixture in our lives.
On that day, as a six-year-old, she said Tehilim in the aftermath of the event, cementing the moment as a miraculous reality that unfolded before my very eyes. That birthday shifted my understanding of miracles from the abstract to the tangible, from stories in the Torah to a personal experience that I will forever cherish.