Sunday, May 25, 2014

Your Miracle Barometer

Are all miracles of equal import?

No, some demonstrate more or less divine impact.

Here's a barometer to help you decide the measure of a miracle's divine force: The closer the miracle cooperates with or mimics Nature, the loftier its source!

Take the miracle of the "burning bush". This could have, at first, appeared quite normal in that a dry bush could conceivably combust under the hot desert sun. At first, then, it could "fit" with a Natural scenario. Only when it failed to extinguish did the fire become recognized as a miracle.

We also saw such a miracle, that resembled a Natural process, regarding "The Persian Gulf War" (link).

Compare that with the miracle of the splitting of the Reed Sea in ancient Egypt that completely overwhelmed Nature and easily distanced itself from what might appear as a Natural phenomenon.

Your barometer will now tell you, and you might be surprised to learn, the Persian Gulf War registers as a "higher" miracle than that which occurred during the Egyptian exodus.

Test question: How would you measure the miracle of the rebirth of the Land of Israel from its ancient roots? Given that it occurred in the aftermath of a slaughter that even Gentiles acknowledge as appalling, and therefore many nations of the U.N. in 1948 voted to create a Jewish territory out of sympathy, you have what resembles an "It's only natural!" consequence.

Nevertheless, now that you possess this barometer, can you sense the greatness of this miracle? Even a Gentile historian familiar with the rise and fall of empires over thousands of years would recognize the rebirth of Israel as an exceptional miracle.

Two rational reasons explain why miracles wrought within the framework of Nature, rather than by trouncing it, derive from a higher order of revelation.

1) When a miracle breaches Nature (for example, when the Egyptian landscape was inundated with frogs, or when darkness paralyzed Egyptians for 3 days) Nature suffers an assault; An Infinite power creates a new reality that disregards Nature's constraints.

But for a miracle to worm its way through Nature, without significantly disrupting it or raising notice, this can only be accomplished by conforming to the finiteness of the world. Because finiteness and infinity are opposites, the only way to render Nature intact during a miracle would be to draw the Infinite power from G-d Himself, because only G-d is in the finite and the infinite. Only this highest source of potential can pull off such a miracle.

Lesser miracles can occur without summoning the highest source available from the Infinite. As our sages tell us (Shmos Rabbah 19:6), "During the Egyptian exodus, I and My tribunal went before you; In the future, I will go Myself."

2) When a miracle breaches Nature, it demonstrates G-d's overpowering dominance, where Nature cannot stand in the way. However, if the miracle streams through Nature, it shows G-d also controls Nature. A miracle that disrupts Nature only shows that that power can defeat Nature, whereas a miracle wrought with the help of Nature shows that Nature too falls under the control of G-d!
(An idea that sprung from learning the Rebbe's Ma-amar of 1952
[Sefer Hama-amarim, Melukat, vol. 4,  pp. 225-234, "כימי צאתך מארץ מצרים"]. )

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