Dec 2015

We Are a Miracle

As we close Hanukah, we want light to spill over into life. In the prayer “Al Ha-nisim” [on miracles], we articulate how the unexpected turned into reality. In theological terms, we call these miracles. When the weak overcome the strong, the few defeat the many, and righteousness presides over evil, we feel profound relief that along with random acts of terror, life can sometimes throw us unpredictable goodness. 

This sliver of hope gives us faith in moments of despair, like a candle that produces a small but powerful light. Saying the prayer repeatedly over eight days – in both the Amida [18 Benedictions] and Grace After Meals – moves this from a prayer to an affirmation. I wrote Take Your Soul to Work: 365 Meditations on Every Day Leadership because I believe in the power of affirmations of goodness. Because we are human, we need constant reminders of how to be, how to become and how to lead. Not just on eight nights but on every night and every day.

Al Ha-nisim creates a meditative mantra around a core belief in Jewish life and history: “Not by power nor by might but by spirit” [Zechariah 4:6]. We are a people who don’t wait for a miracle. We are a miracle.

Dr. Erica Brown lectures, consults and writes widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership, is the author of 10 books, and is a longtime faculty for The Wexner Foundation, . Her latest book just came out: Take Your Soul to Work: 365 Meditations on Every Day Leadership (Simon and Schuster, December 2015).  She is also the author of Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death (Simon and Schuster), which won both the Wilbur and Nautilus awards for spiritual writing. Erica also writes a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week and has blogged for JTA, Psychology Today and Newsweek/Washington Post’s “On Faith” and tweets on one page of Talmud study a day @DrEricaBrown and you can access her articles at You can also find recordings of Erica’s videoconferences under the RESOURCES tab on our website, for example, click here to view her teaching at the 30th Anniversary of The Wexner Foundation. Erica can be reached at