“In our generation, miracles don’t happen to us, like what happened in past generations,” I said to my Sabba, as we went together in a happy dance of flags in Jerusalem. And then I immediately clarified: “I mean such miracles as the vial of oil on Chanukah and the miracles of Purim, or the Exodus from Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea. On Yom Yerushalayim we simply conquered the city and that’s all.”
Sabba seemed to be so surprised by what I said that he had trouble answering me. Anyway, even if he had answered I would not have heard, because of all the noise made by the people celebrating in the streets. All we could see all around was a veritable sea of happy Jews – children, youths, families dressed in blue and white – all carrying flags. They continued singing and dancing all the way to the Western Wall Plaza, where we would recite the Maariv prayer and then go back to our dancing.
Even though I was very tired from the long march, I continued dancing, until I almost fell over. Lucky for me, my Sabba and Savta live in the Old City of Jerusalem, and after all the dancing and marching I went home with them for a festive meal.
Sabba gave me a big smile. “So, in our generation we don’t see any real miracles, is that it? And just how do you think we managed to win a war in six days against all the Arab armies? Actually, it didn’t really take more than about six hours!”
This surprised me. “What do you mean, six hours? We must have had the newest weapons and the best airplanes…” To tell the truth, I wasn’t so sure any more about the miracles.
Sabba continued. “I remember the days before the war, the fear could be felt in the streets. Israel was in great danger. Our leaders understood that something must be done, otherwise we might not have a country any more. And Operation Moked took off! On Monday, the 26th of Iyar, 5727, at 7:15 in the morning, almost all of our airplanes took to the air in order to attack the Egyptian air force. There was great danger in what we did, because Egypt had one of the most modern and highly developed anti-aircraft systems, including dozens of advanced missiles and hundreds of cannons, which the Russians gave them. Most of our planes, on the other hand, were made by the French, and they were very old.”
He continued: “At exactly 7:45, all of our planes reached the Egyptian air fields and bombed the runways, taking them out of action. And then, right away, our pilots blew up the airplanes which were caught on the ground. Within an hour, more than two hundred Egyptian planes were destroyed. This was about half of the Egyptian air force. And now you tell me – How did we manage within a few hours to completely take the Egyptian air fields out of operation, which is how we were able to win the war so quickly? How did it happen that all of our planes made it to the Egyptian fields – in Sinai, along the Suez Canal, and on the Nile River – without even one of them being discovered? How did it happen that the entire air defense system of Egypt collapsed, and didn’t work at all?”
And I was getting excited too. “Now I understand!” We had our own set of miracles too!
“And do you think that our miracles on that day ended with that?” Sabba had more surprises for me. “They were not over. Jordan, Syria, and Iraq believed the false reports of the Egyptians about defeating Israel in battle, and they did not hesitate to attack us, in order to be part of the ‘great victory.’ As a result of their attack, Israel destroyed the air forces and the airfields of both Syria and Jordan. At the end of the first day of the war, none of the three countries who opposed us had an air force, and Israel controlled all the air space in the Middle East.”
I asked, “What about Iraq’s air force?” And Sabba said, “Don’t worry. The next day, the second day of the war, Israel also destroyed their air force.”
Sabba’s story excited me very much. But mainly I felt very happy to hear how we can always rely on the Holy One, Blessed be He to protect us. Our nation can feel secure, and great miracles happen even today. I thought, “Tomorrow, I will recite the Hallel to thank G-d for the miracles.”
Then, suddenly, Sabba stood up and filled a large goblet with wine. I asked, “What are you doing?”
Sabba gave a signal to Savta and to me, to stand there with him. In a very serious and loud voice, he cried out, “Let us make a blessing for the glory of Eretz Yisrael!” He began to list all the parts of the land which we received as a gift in that miraculous war. He slowly pronounced every name with great love, as if every parcel of land might have been a beloved only son: Azza; Jerusalem, the holy city; the Temple Mount, where the holy Temple stood (at this point, I saw tears in Savta’s eyes – perhaps I will have an opportunity to ask her about it); Shechem; Yericho; Beit El; Beit Lechem; Ramat Hagolan; Shilo; Shomron; Givon; Mitzpeh Anatot; the Sinai Peninsula.
Sabba sat down, recited the blessing for wine, and the blessing “hatov v’hameitiv” recited for especially happy occasions, and gave Savta and me a portion of wine.
We thank G-d for all the miracles.