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.
This poem is in the public domain.
Philip M. Raskin
Philip M. Raskin was born on December 24, 1880, in Shklov, Russia, and received his education in secular studies and Hebrew studies in Russia, Switzerland, and England before working as a staff member of the Health Department of the City of Leeds in Yorkshire, England. In 1914, he published his first poetry collection, Songs of a Jew (George Routledge & Sons), and the following year, he immigrated to the United States. Raskin authored several more volumes of poetry in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish in both England and America, and in 1927, he edited and introduced Anthology of Modern Jewish Poetry (Behrman’s Jewish Book Shop, 1927). He died on February 6, 1944, in New York.
Lanterns in the Wind (C. L. Tumasel, 1937)
When a Soul Sings (Thomas Seltzer, 1922)
Songs and Dreams (The Stratford Co., 1920)
Songs of a Wanderer (The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1917)
Songs of a Jew (George Routledge & Sons, 1914)
Date Published: 2017-11-29
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/miracle