The beautiful Carmel region in Israel, home to tens of thousands of families – including our own – was aflame. Beginning Thursday, December 2ndat around 11am, an uncontrolled inferno raged for 77 hours, ravaging virtually everything in its path. The result of an act of negligence, the fire fed on the parched-dry ground that had not seen rain in months, and spread with unexpected speed, destroying over 12,000 acres of land in just a few days. Seventeen thousand people were evacuated from their homes and many of them are left with nothing. Such was the lot of 20 Brazilian Jewish young men who came to Israel for a brief period to learn Torah and explore the land of Israel. They were staying in Kfar Yemin Ord, located in the Carmel region, in a house cared for by our family.
After being notified that the area was being evacuated as a precaution, the young men were hurried from the home with practically just the clothes on their backs. They assumed it would be just a short, half-hour drill. Little did they know that when they’d return after Shabbat, virtually the entire house – down to its very foundations – would be totally scorched and ruined.
After Shabbat, we came to see what was left of the home. We had heard many rumors over Shabbat about the extent of the damage, and we had to see for ourselves what had happened. As we approached the area, we could see that the neighbors’ home was totally destroyed, and we began to cry. The house had been nicely renovated but to our despair, when we entered there seemed to be nothing left. Everything from the floor to the ceiling was blackened and practically unrecognizable. The roof had caved in and we could see the sky from the living room.
As we walked through what had once been a bedroom, we were overwhelmed with grief seeing that even all of the boys’ belongings were apparently destroyed. But then came the real shock, as we walked into the last room, we couldn’t believe our eyes. While the rest of the house had been ravaged, one room was different. Surrounded by devastation and wreckage, the room that the boys used to study Torah was virtually untouched by the fire. We ventured into the room and saw the bookcase of holy sefarim standing in front of us. We were stunned. Not only had it shockingly escaped the fire’s wrath from total destruction, but it appeared as if nothing at all had happened around it. Everything was exactly as it had been left – as if the fire never even happened.
Many people have come to see this miraculous sight, but no one can explain how it happened. Of course, we also know that it didn’t happened by accident. Maybe it’s telling us that we need to pray and to ask Hashem for rain. Maybe we need to strengthen our emuna(faith). Whatever the message, one thing is clear, Hashem sent us an unmistakable sign that we need to awaken.