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March 19, 1993 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Levels Of Miracles
In Our Daily Lives

ALEXANDER ULLMANN SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

I

he double sedrahs of
this week conclude the
reading of the Book of
Exodus. They describe
in great detail the construc-
tion of the Tabernacle. The
book closes with a miraculous
event. When the work on the
Tabernacle was completed, a
cloud covered the tent of
meeting and the glory of the
Lord (i.e. Shehinah) filled the
Tabernacle. Whenever the
cloud, the manifestation of
the Divine Presence, was
taken up from over the Taber-
nacle„ it was a sign for the
children of Israel to start
their journey; they camped at
the same place, if the cloud
was not lifted. At night there
was a fire shining within the
cloud, in theplain sight of all
Israel. "And the Lord went
before them by day in a pillar
of cloud, to lead them the
way; and by night in a pillar
of fire, to give them light. . ."

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ANIERIC.AN
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Help us keep winning.

Miracle is defined as an ex-
traordinary event manifest-
ing Divine intervention in
human affairs. We often
associate miracles with the
Bible as if the two were going
together, _hand in hand. The
rabbis distinguished three
types of miracles; (1) miracles
that require a change in the
order of creation — we might
call it "the suspension of
natural laws"; (2) miracles
that would prove a religious
point and (3) "daily" or "hid-
den" miracles that. do not
violate the laws of nature (En-

cyclopedia Judaica).

Many Jewish theologians
and philosophers — even as
far back as the sages of the
Talmud — had a real problem
with the miracles of the first
kind. They found it difficult to
accept the idea that an omnis-
cient and omnipotent God,
the Creator, did not do a
perfect job and did not forsee
at the time of creation that
some time in the future a par-
ticular miracle would be
needed in order to preserve
the faithful or to confirm His
revelations to the prophets.
They resolved their problem
by concluding that God
foresaw the future need for
these miracles.
Miracles cannot be used to

Dr. Ullmann is a physician at

Crittenton Hospital and
teaches adult alef-bet classes
at Congregation Shaarey
Zedek and Shir Tikvah.

prove the truth of religion,
doctrine or prophecy. If a false
prophet gives signs or predic-
tions which later come to pass
and then he tells you to "go
after other gods: do not
hearken unto the words of
that prophet . . ." (Deut.
13:3-4). Numerous similar
statements can be found in
the Talmud and in the
writings of the later scholars
and philosophers.
Baruch of Mezbizh, as
quoted by M. Buber in the
Tales of the Chasidism, said:
"Elijah's great work was not
that he performed miracles,
but that, when fire fell from
heaven, the people did not
speak of miracles, but all
cried, "The Lord is God." In
similar vein Joshua ben Levi
said: "If the people at Carmel
had not proclaimed "The
Lord is God," Elijah could not
have effected a miracle."

Shabbat
Vayakhel-Pekudei:
Exodus 35:1-40:38
12:1-20
Ezekiel 45:16-
46:18.

Maimonides who believed
that Aristotelian logic is not
incompatible with the
teachings of the Bible writes:
"We pay no heed to one who,
by miracles and wonders,
seeks to refute Moses whose
prophecy was established not
by signs but by revelations
which we witnessed with our
own eyes and ears." Further,
we find in his Guide for the
Perplexed: "A miracle cannot
prove what is impossible; it is
useful only to confirm what is
possible."
The story is entirely dif-
ferent when we consider the
"daily," "hidden" miracles of
life. Wonder or amazement is
the chief characteristic of the
religious man's attitude
toward history and nature.
Looking at the world, the
Psalmist says: "This is the
Lord's doing; it is marvelous
in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23)
and "I will give thanks unto
Thee for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made; marvelous
are Thy works; and that my
soul knows very well" (Psalm
139:14). The "Song of the Red
Sea" reads: "Who is like
Thee, majestic in holiness,

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