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Does G-d still have a hand in nature?

by Rabbi Levi Jacobson


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scy: OK, so once upon a time, G-d created the world and knew all—but does that mean that until today he controls all? Can’t we say there’s some sort of pattern, i.e. the laws of nature?

Rabbi Jacobson: There is a difference between making a table from wood, or creating something from nothing. In the former you haven't created anything, and you can walk away. In the latter without you there is nothing again. The world wasn't formed from existing materials. It was created ex nilho. So G-d constantly keeps creating it all.

scy: Granted that G-d’s creation of everything means that everything is entirely dependent upon him, including nature, but I still see room to differentiate. Doesn’t the word “nature” itself imply that there is a certain pattern and rules to the game which are standard, and that not every move comes directly from G-d? In other words, when I plow a field, do I believe it will grow because G-d created the laws of nature, or is there a direct command from G-d: “Grow!”

Rabbi Jacobson: Nature, like everything else (as you yourself write) is entirely dependant on G-d. Nature is not an independant entity; it is only one form of a G-dly manifestation.

Rabbi Jacobson: Who tells “nature” to keep kicking? As I said earlier, G-d is dealing with "something from nothing." As such, if He pulls away, it just goes “Poof!”

scy: Agreed, but is there any difference between nature and a miracle, i.e. a direct involvement from G-d? Isn’t a miracle precisely when G-d decides to butt in and not let things run according to the program?

Rabbi Jacobson: Someone once said that nature is just a miracle that happens often.

scy: Then a miracle would not at all be breaking the laws of nature, just like a boss who decides to break his own rules.

Rabbi Jacobson: You got it!

scy: OK, and thanks.


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Providence vs. Miracles

Posted by: Anonymous, Tucson, AZ, USA on Dec 02, 2005

Say you're driving down the highway late at night. You're tired, sleepy, and starting to nod off. If GOD causes a little bird to fly through your open car window and it startles you awake just before you hit the back of a semi-trailer, that would be providence. A miracle would be if the car window was rolled up as the bird flew in!

Providence is GOD using the already established forces of nature to accomplish HIS will. To qualify as a miracle, the event must break the laws of physics. Providence is finding a ram tangled in the bushes; an axe that floats is a miracle. The Creator's Hand controlled them both.


Posted by: Joseph, S. Barbara, CA on Jan 17, 2006

I have a lot of respect for the rabbi's knowledge. I agree that the point he is trying to show is an important one, but a miracle by definition defies nature. You can say that nature itself is in reality a miracle, but since it always happens, we have gotten used to it and thus no longer consider it a miracle. Childbirth is a natural event, but anyone who has held their baby just after it is born is in awe of the miracle they are holding. Afterwards, many of us tend to forget the miracle.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.