Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
What does it take to experience a miracle? Nothing more than to live a life with eyes wide open. The truth is, we live in an age of miracles and wonder. Does that sound like a ridiculous statement to you – to characterize the age of the Internet, gene therapy, and biological science as an age of miracles? For many people, the idea of “miracles” comes straight from Medieval times. They view miracles as fantasy and “anti-science.”
I assure you that Judaism has the greatest regard for science. Science and miracles both true? Absolutely. As software developer and author Tamar Sofer has written, “My husband, a laser physicist, tells me that scientists who study particle physics are more likely to become religious. Scientists are notoriously hard to convince of anything. Yet, when these skeptical scientists see the perfect, natural order of the world, they decide nano and up that this world was planned. The marvelous design before them becomes the miracle they need to become convinced.”
Indeed, it is quite often those scientists who study natural law in its greatest complexity and detail who appreciate miracles the most.
The laws of science and nature guide our world. And miracles happen all the time. A contradiction? Not at all. The “rub,” as Hamlet might have suggested, is with how we define “miracle.”
A miracle is anything that “should not” happen in the logical, rational normal course of events. A miracle need not be fantastical. If we limit the things that constitute “miracles” to the “earth standing still” or events that run contrary to physical law, then we not only tarnish the laws God has established for the physical world but we blind ourselves to the very real miracles that play out in our lives every day.
Over 300 years ago King Louis XIV of France asked Pascal, the great philosopher of his day, to give him proof of the existence of miracles. Without hesitation, Pascal answered, “Why, the Jews, your Majesty. The Jews.”
History does not tell us the king’s reaction to this proof, but we do know exactly what Pascal meant by his answer because he explained it clearly in his masterwork, Pensees. In that work, he states that the fact that the Jewish people had survived even to his day was proof enough for him that miracles occur. After all, what rational explanation existed to make sense of our continued presence upon the world’s stage?
A more modern historian, Arnold Toynbee, wrote a ten-volume encyclopedia of human history. In the course of those many volumes the one thing that contradicted his “universal” rules that govern the inexorable decline of every people on earth was the continued flourishing of the Jewish people.
Only the Jews.
Despite history’sbrutal attempts to destroy us, we have managed to defy all predictions and logical expectation of our demise.
History is littered with the powerful empires that worked mightily to ensure our demise – from the Akkadians to the Babylonians to the Persians to the Third Reich. Jewish history – indeed, Jewish existence – defies rational explanation. We are a miracle.
The miraculous is so essential to who we are that David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of the State of Israel, said, “A Jew who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.”
The most dramatic threats to our existence have come from external forces; the more subtle and damaging arise from within the Jewish community. Jews too often embrace cultural norms that would diminish the uniqueness of Jewish life, as when we clamored to assimilate into Hellenistic culture during the early years of the Hellenistic Empire. It was only the miracle of Chanukah – and by that I mean a good deal more than the oil lasting a full eight days – that once again allowed us to survive as a dedicated people.
During the time of Antiochus, our prayers and repentance were not sincere. The people had assimilated. They were “as the Greeks” – and so, in the beginning, it was a mere handful of Hasmoneans leading the charge while most of our people failed to demonstrate the inspiration from below to earn God’s abundant blessing from above.
And yet God showered us with miracles. Despite the people’s lack of faith, He provided us, mercifully, with inspiration from above. His inspiration was undeserved – which made it all the more miraculous!
About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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There is not even a hint of recognition that Hamas deliberately fires rockets at civilian targets in Israel while storing arms and rocket launchers among its own civilians in Gaza.
No one with any sanity would dream of rationalizing or justifying the depredations perpetrated on the Arab world by ISIS.
With $2 billion on hand the Islamic State is an extremely well-funded terrorist group that may pose a major international crisis for the U.S. and the world. Learn about their rise to power and the toll they’ve taken thus far.
In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.
A., a teacher: “I do not know a single Gazan who is pro-Hamas at the moment, except for those on its payroll.”
Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?
Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.
Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”
Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.
Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?
Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.
Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.
Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.
Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.
What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?
One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.
“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”
Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.
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