Even a wise man may say that in the
history of the world that we have experienced miracles – but we know
that some people will believe in the miracles and others will not.
Many of us doubting human beings would be happy to have
some kind of proof.
Perhaps the evidence is plainly before us,
even in the process of waking in the morning, restored to life to face
a new day. Some of the miracles may be right before our eyes, if we
take the time to notice them.
What if these some of these miracles belong to the
plants and animals around us? A bee gathers pollen to fertilize the
wildflowers and to provide us fruit and vegetables. Rain causes the
earth to become green again. Life continues to flourish even with all
of the evil in the world.
Let me tell you a story, now, told to me by a wrinkled man
in an ivy-league yarmulke (religious hat) over a cup of sweet tea
without the sugar and an artificial almond cookie, somewhere in Miami,
perhaps Sarah's Restaurant, where my mother, of blessed memory, used to
can't remember him very well, and it may just have been one of those
dreams that seem quite real.
In the history of the Jewish people, he reminded me,
there was no
more significant moment than when Moses received the ten commandments.
While the nation waited below, Moses climbed the mountain to receive
the law, and some say he received not only the ten commandments, but
the whole five books of Moses and more – the Torah and even the
commentary. "Of course," he said, squeezing the tea bag with two
fingers to make it drip, "the rabbis argue one way or another on the
whether the whole Torah was given, but that is neither here nor there
for our story."
"The whole mountain blossomed with
flowers," he continued, "and so the Jewish people decorate their homes
with flowers to
remember that day."
In those days in the desert, he went on,
there lived a
plain dusty moth, and the moth led a meager existence because it had
very little food, even as a caterpillar. It was the lowest and poorest
of the Divine Creator's many creatures, scraping out a living in the
hot sun, seeking
shade in whatever plants would grow in the sandy soil. Few people
noticed the moth, and those that did wanted only to shoo it away as no
one wants moths around the firelight, even though these small creatures
love to dance in the brightness.
Even like the poor moths, the Hebrews had fled Egypt
following such a fiery brightness. It is said, he reminded me, that
Hashem or the Divine
the Hebrews out from hundreds of years of slavery “with a strong hand
and an outstretched arm” and this is a reason that Passover is
But the Hebrews at that time had no written laws to
follow and spent a long time
wandering from place to place, wondering what would happen to them.
"They had no place to go," he said.
Finally, the writings say, it became the time for
Moses to ascend the famous
mountain and receive the Word of Hashem. We are told that there was
glow around the mountain
that people had never seen before.
It was a glow that some found
frightening, along with smoke and thunder. The presence of Hashem was
doubted. It was a glow that was reflected on the face of Moses.
Photograph used with permission of
"Perhaps you have seen the movie?"
the man asked. "There is a part that the cameras missed, my young
friend," he said, smearing some dietetic cream cheese with the end of
his spoon onto what was left of the bagel, and then wagging the spoon
And so it was, that when Moses received the word on
no other human being was there to see. It was there that the Divine
his presence. It was there that Moses basked in the
divine glory. Yet, he was not allowed to see the face of Hashem, and
even his name is not allowed to be spoken. But there
was one creature on the mountain that had followed the light and saw
everything. It was the little brown moth.
Hashem saw the moth, a creature which had been
"You had to see it to believe it," said the old man.
"The poor moth was fermisht." That means "all shook up" in
The moth spoke first, for the
language of moths is
something that only the Divine knows. The moth was shaking
and frightened and said,
master of the universe, what will happen to me now that I have seen
your face? I did not mean to do so. I am but a poor moth, please have
pity on me!” The Divine Master responded,”Oh my little creature. Be not
frightened for I will also bless you. I see that you are a plain
moth and perhaps my angels forgot in their haste to provide you with
some mark of distinction, as we have done with many of the other moths
and butterflies, who can fly like my angels.
“You have the miracle of changing from a
caterpillar to a moth, but you will also have another miracle that I
will give you.”
“From this time forth, you and your cousin moths, who will
always remind you of this day, will carry a sign of having seen me,
and it will be a testament to my power to all peoples. You will carry a
marking on your back, signifying the great event that you have
witnessed. I will also carry you out of the dry desert to fertile lands
where you will flourish among the many green plants and trees.”
Suddenly, marveled my new friend, there appeared on the
of the moth, the
Hebrew character which is called “noon" with the vowels pronounced like
the word "book.” It is a letter that stands for
the Hebrew word “miracle.” To this day, more than three thousand years
later, the moth carries the sign of the great miracle it witnessed.
"Quite a story," I said, wondering why I had
not heard it before. "Let me pay for this," said my friend,
breaking into a catlike grin, as if I were the canary. I don't
remember what happened to
him. He got up, bid me farewell, and simply disappeared from the table.
I thought, yes, even the most learned
scientist cannot tell us
why a caterpillar can change into a moth. And surely only those who are
reading this tale know the way the moth got its markings. And
this story seems more than a dream – could it be
real? Did the man in the restaurant know something special?
You can look
this moth up in the dictionary as “the Hebrew character moth” or Orthosia gothica.
The cousin moth, the Setaceous
Character, also carries the markings to help remind all
moths of that day.
Yes, you are one of the first to know of
story. It is certainly a story that
can be shared with everyone.