Outside, I noticed last night, something had gone wrong with the darkness. It was fully night, cloudy and moonless, but the sky began to glow. Lit from above. It was lightning. Not threatening, though. There was something welcoming about it.
In the Holy Land, it was Hanukkah. The holiday that is darkness surrendering to light. The holiday in which a sense of powerlessness, of dread, of life turned unrecognizable, unredeemable, gives way to human-wrought miracles of hope against hope. Of rededication.
We chanted the blessings, lit the candles, sang the familiar songs. Then we turned on the television.
In the Old Country, in America, not one but two miracles were unfolding before our eyes. For the first time, an astonishing weapon – developed, tested, manufactured, and delivered in a cooperative global effort that defied belief – was being deployed against the tyranny of a plague which had killed 300,000 Americans and oppressed millions more with disability, grief and poverty.
At one and the same time, a political miracle was underway. In the face of death threats, calls for violence and even for secession, a stricken United States of America was rededicating itself to democracy. The Electoral College confirmed the victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and the defeat of Donald Trump.
A transition of power which was once a matter of course, a matter as routine and unremarkable as drying paint, was proceeding in defiance of the active and vocal opposition of the sitting president of the United States, his administration and his party.
Nes Gadol Haya Sham. A Great Miracle Has Happened There.
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There is some irony in the fact that, early on, had the sitting president ordered his supporters to wear masks and distance themselves, there is every chance that most of the horrific deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans could have been prevented.
Stated differently, there is every reason to believe that, had Donald Trump mobilized all Americans, especially his own voters, to effectively combat the spread of COVID, he would have won reelection.
There is little question that Trump’s supporters would have done absolutely anything he told them to do. Especially if the masks were seen as patriotic. Or anti-liberal. Trump could have passed out tens of millions of TRUMP 2020 masks. Or sold them for profit.
And it is just as likely that Democrats, Biden among them, would have also backed and taken part in a national campaign to mask up, practice physical distancing, limit gatherings and undertake massive programs of testing and contact tracing.
But the sitting president did not believe in that kind of miracle.
As it is, many of his supporters, rendered – by Trump – suspicious of science and medical professionals, still convinced that COVID is a hoax conjured by Democrats in order to unseat their adored and infallible president, will resist being inoculated.
As it is, Trump administration officials will continue to go on Fox News to insist, as the execrable senior adviser Stephen Miller did on Monday, that “As we speak, today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we’re going to send those results up to Congress” in an effort to overturn the results of the election before the January 20 inauguration.
Holed up in an oddly darkened White House, Donald Trump has yet to decide when – or perhaps if – he will be vaccinated.
In any case, Trump is consumed with other concerns. He’s still busy doing what he does in that great secular Temple – defiling and desecrating. And still holding out for a miracle.
Thank God, or thank whoever you like, that as this darkest of years draws to a close, the real miracles are not breaking his way.