The Miracle

By Philip M. Raskin

The Rabbi tells his old, old tale,
The pupils seated round.
“…And thus, my boys, no holy oil
In the Temple could be found.

The heathens left no oil to light
The Lord’s eternal lamp;
At last one jar, one single jar,
Was found with the high priest’s stamp.

Its oil could only last one day—
But God hath wondrous ways;
For lo! a miracle occurred:
It burned for eight whole days.”

The tale was ended, but the boys,
All open-eyed and dumb,
Sat listening still, as though aware
Of stranger things to come.

Just wait, my boys, permit me, pray,
The liberty to take;
Your Rabbi—may he pardon me—
Has made a slight mistake.

Not eight days, but two thousand years
That jar of oil did last,
To quell its wondrous flames availed
No storm, no flood, no blast.

But this is not yet all, my boys:
The miracle just starts.
This flame is kindling light and hope
In countless gloomy hearts.

And in our long and starless night,
Lest we should go astray,
It beacon-like sheds floods of light,
And eastwards points the way,

Where light will shine on Zion’s hill,
As in the days of old.
The miracle is greater, boys,
Than what your Rabbi told.

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