For Good…

Quite often, when someone grows up to be a superstar, people will say, “The signs were there.” Even when he was little, he would… It doesn’t matter what they excel in, be it Torah, music, math, chesed, or something else, it often starts young, and people, in retrospect, say that the signs were there from the beginning.

That’s not to say everything is a sign. For example, there was the fellow who came to his Rabbi saying that his three-year-old son would put a towel on his shoulders, wrap a belt around his arm, and stand at the wall swaying as if in prayer. “My son seems so special,” said the man. “I’m wondering if I should buy him a pair of Tefillin.”

“No,” said the Rabbi. “What you should do is try to daven in shul once in a while!” 😊

…or for Bad

Then there are those people who do terrible things and, looking back, people recall how they were sneaky or cruel as children, and they say, “The signs were there.” The common theme is that the people didn’t recognize the signs for what they were in time to take action. Sure, some parents do take note of things, and they act upon them, but there are many cases where we simply miss the signs.

They Didn’t See Her

And it’s not entirely our faults. You see, sometimes you can see something so often that you take it for granted and almost don’t see it anymore. Remember that apocryphal high school final that consisted of one question: “What is the name of the woman who cleans the school?”

The teacher wanted to teach the girls that all the knowledge in the world won’t help you if you don’t consider others and are self-absorbed. The girls who just went about their days not taking notice of the woman who cleaned up after them failed to learn a valuable lesson because they simply didn’t “see” her.

I Love Dad

Well, there’s a sign I’ve been ignoring. I take that back; I haven’t been ignoring it. I simply haven’t seen it. The sign is an actual, physical one, and it hangs over my bed.

It’s a white piece of printer paper, standard 8½ x 11, on which are pasted a number of small smiley face stickers. The stickers are arranged in a pattern to spell out the words, “I love Dad.” My daughter made it for me years ago for Father’s Day, and it’s hung there ever since. I can enter and exit my bed multiple times a day, especially on Shabbos, and, I’m sorry to admit, simply miss it. Not because it’s high and out of sight, but because I’m so used to it being there that it no longer makes an impression on me.

For 12 Years it Went Unnoticed!

Recently I took note of it, and of the fact that I haven’t taken note of it in so long. It bothered me because it’s such a meaningful thing and I’ve simply overlooked it. I sent my now twenty-one-year-old daughter a picture of it and asked when she made it. “Probably when I was nine,” she replied. “Or maybe eight, based on the sticker book.”

I was shocked. For over a dozen years, thousands of times, I’ve gotten into that bed and missed the fact that my daughter was telling me she loved me; that she was proud to be my child. How could I have missed it?! Truthfully, it was just because I was so used to it that I didn’t consciously appreciate it.

It made me realize that we have so many signs in our lives which we take for granted and don’t stop to think about. The people in our lives like our parents, spouses, children and friends, are like walking placards announcing their feelings for us. Most of the time we don’t stop and read them.

Signs from Hashem – They Were There All Along

When we get up in the morning and say the Modeh Ani prayer, we’ve gotten a sign from Hashem (God) He thinks we’re worthy of another day of life. “Rabba Emunasecha” refers to the great faith Hashem has in each of us that even if we didn’t live perfectly yesterday, He knows that today we will knock it out of the park.

The health, parnassah (livelihood), or family we have are signs that He loves us and is glad to be our father; that He is proud of us. But we so easily miss the signs because they’re always there. At least, until we wake up one day and take proper notice of them. Then we’ll start to see the signs more clearly and more regularly. We’ll start to find joy and comfort in their messages, and grow the love we have for the posters of those signs. It would certainly be a shame if a lifetime from now we were to acknowledge, “The signs were there all along, and I didn’t even notice.”

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

Rabbi Gewirtz (Operation Inspiration) welcomes comments and feedback. Write to him at to share your thoughts. You never know when you may be the lamp that enlightens someone else.

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