I love the idea of miracles but at the same time I´m afraid of them. On the one hand the notion of a miracle helps us believe that “anything” is possible, that all of the sudden a terrible situation may change dramatically to have a positive outcome after all. Belief in the possibility of miracles gives hope. But on the other hand believing in miracles may induce people not to do everything in their power to control a situation counting on a miracle happening.
At the beginning of the book of Vaykra many different types of sacrifices are described. Among the preparations for these offerings it is stated, “And the descendants of Aaron the kohen shall place fire on the altar, and arrange wood on the fire.” (1:7). But the Talmud (Zevachim 18a) tells us that the fire, which consumes the sacrifices, descended miraculously from heaven. This was the way to show the people that God accepted their offerings. So if the fire came miraculously from the sky, why did the priests have to bring the wood to make the fire? To teach us, I would like to argue, that even though miracles may occur we should operate in our world and in our daily tasks as if miracles don´t exist. The priests knew that every day Hashem will make his fire descend from heaven but still they went and brought wood. For this type of thing the Talmud says: “We do not rely on a miracle” (BT, Pesachim 64b). Believing in miracles is good, relying on them not so much.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Uri