Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)Believe in Miracles?

Manna makes its first appearance in this week’s Parsha. It is more a concept than a food; it’s actually an ideology. The modern thinker finds it difficult to accept that millions of people were fed each day with food descending from heaven.We look at manna as a miracle because it came in a way that didn’t use the normal laws of nature. People know we don’t get our food from miracles. It doesn’t just fall from the sky; we have to work for it. Question: What’s the difference between natural and miracle? The Oxford American Dictionary says a miracle is “a remarkable and welcome event that seems impossible to explain by means of the known laws of nature and is therefore attributed to a supernatural agency.” A miracle can’t be explained by the conventional laws of nature. But where did the known laws of nature come from? We assume certain phenomena are known and when we can’t explain it we call it a miracle; but are the known phenomena any less miraculous?Imagine burying a corpse. After a while the body would deteriorate and turn to dust. Then, sometime thereafter, something begins growing in that same grave. After a short while, a human being emerges, comes out of the grave, and shakes off the dirt. We would marvel at the miracle that took place in our midst, resurrection of the dead. But a “natural” occurrence of the same magnitude occurs when we plant a seed in the ground. A lifeless object placed in the ground, rots away, and then a new creation emerges. Is this event any less spectacular than resurrecting the dead? The only difference is that we’re used to it.When we look at the world from this perspective, we understand that getting our food every day is no less miraculous than if we were given manna from heaven. Science can trace the chemical process taking place between the time a seed is put into the ground until it sprouts but it can’t tell us why a seed has the unique molecular structure allowing it to participate in its process, but a pebble doesn’t. Who gave it that power?
People say, “if G-d exists, let Him show me a miracle. If He did that I would be convinced and lead a different life.” The empirical evidence of history proves otherwise. The Egyptians witnessed a suspension of the laws of nature, but they didn’t become more moral as a result, instead they continued to afflict the Jews even more. Plague after plague-ten outright miracles-didn’t serve as a catalyst for change. At the end of this week’s Parsha, the nation of Amalek attempted to fight the Jews. They were aware of the miracles that took place in Egypt and they also knew about the splitting of the Red Sea, but it had absolutely no effect on them. They even had the audacity to wage war on the very nation for whom the miracles were done. But that was almost 3400 years ago, how about today?
When five well-armed Arab nations waged war against an understaffed and scarcely armed Israel in 1948, and Israel—against all odds—miraculously won, did anyone change as a result of that miracle? People living in Israel during the Six Day War will tell you that many Jews far removed from any connection to G-d, Torah or mitzvot were actually praying for their lives in bomb shelters during the war. After the war most people were astonished at outright miracles; the predicted death toll was (fortunately) extremely off, but that didn’t cause them to alter their lives or lifestyles
Our family was living in Israel during the Gulf War. Thirty-nine scud missiles hit Israel; entire apartment buildings were destroyed; yet only one person was killed. Although every life is precious, under the circumstances thousands should’ve died. Another open miracle without any major changes in people’s lives. 
 Why do we choose to deny G-d and the miracles He performs? The moment we acknowledge a Creator, there’s an expectation. By acknowledging G-d one encounters an uncomfortable question; does He expect something from me? (and the corollary, what does it entail)? If the world is ownerless, I can do whatever I’d like. Might makes right is the philosophy of an ownerless world. If there’s no Owner, then there is no intrinsic meaning or obligations.Historically, Jews are a people who believe that life has meaning. When the Greeks, Romans, Russians, Germans. and other advanced civilizations murdered, pillaged, and did all other atrocities, we were busy educating our children and setting up social welfare systems. We know that life has meaning and therefore conduct ourselves accordingly. This is basic to being a Jew.We see miracles every day. The very fact that we ingest food and our body (without any thought or effort on our part) filters impurities and removes them, yet at the same time knows how to separate carbs, fat, protein, and excrete whatever is unnecessary, is nothing short of miraculous! If we open our minds, we see that what we call nature is really no different than open miracles. Let’s not be counted among those who choose to close their minds to these everyday occurrences. We can find manna every day if we sincerely look for it.Some say that they would change if only G-d would show them a miracle but they don’t realize that they are surrounded by them every day. Good Shabbos

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