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Be Reasonable. Expect a Miracle.

by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

  

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Why don’t miracles happen anymore? In truth, if we could see all the miracles about us, we might be too stunned to take a step forward. Perhaps our lives are nestled in a pocket of natural events, born of a world of outrageous miracles. Here are a few thoughts, from our sages and others, on the nature of miracles.

A. Heisenberg has finally done away with the traditional scientific notion that cause and effect are somehow mechanically linked. Today it is quite unscientific to hold that one event is an inevitable consequence of another. There are only probabilities. With the 19th century dogmatic, mechanistic, and deterministic attitude of science out of the way, science can no longer be used as an excuse to reject events that defy the so-called, "Laws of Nature." —The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (adapted from a letter, 1972)

In truth, if we could see all the miracles about us, we might be too stunned to take a step forward. Perhaps our lives are nestled in a pocket of natural events, born of a world of outrageous miracles
B. These things people call amazing coincidences, synchronicity, small miracles—this is the way the world is supposed to work. It is only that the world is in slumber, like a sleeping person who does not see, does not hear, does not speak— so that nothing distinguishes his head from his feet, his heart from his brain. So too, the world lies deep in a dream where anything is possible, but nothing seems to have a goal, where only chaos reigns. . .

. . . It takes only one person to open his eyes, his ears, his mind and his heart, and the objects of this world fall into place and work together, as they were meant to be. —Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch (adapted from a talk, 1940)

C. There are four types of miracles:

1. Those that supersede nature entirely, such as occurred in the Exodus from Egypt. 2. Miracles flimsily dressed in a guise of nature, such as the victory of Chanukah and the Purim story. 3. Miracles of coincidence and synchronicity, where it is apparent that things out of the ordinary have occurred—yet all events have normal explanations. 4. Miracles that go unnoticed, perhaps even perceived as unfortunate. This last form is the greatest of all. A time will come when our eyes will open and we will see these hidden miracles and say, "The miracles of Egypt are nothing in comparison to these." —The Tzemach Tzedek (19th century)


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Purim
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
Chanukah
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Lubavitch
Also known as “Chabad,” Lubavitch is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. “Lubavitch” is the name of the Belarusian city where four of the Chabad Rebbes (leaders) were based. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York, with branches worldwide. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.