"When one observes a place where miracles have been performed
on behalf of Israel, one should say: 'Blessed [is God] for having
performed miracles in this place.'"
(Exodus Rabbah. 24:1)
seems a most appropriate Topic of the Month at Hanukkah time. What are miracles?
In the Jewish context, we tend to think first of those extraordinary occurrences
described in the Bible which God performs in times of great crisis, events
that challenge the rational thinker's perception of the immutable natural
order. This edition looks at the attitudes of the rabbis of the Talmud and
of later philosophers who confront this challenge.
At the same time,
we pause to remember that miracles are not only extraordinary or surprising
deviations from the natural course. In The Extraordinary Nature of
Ordinary Things, Steven Z. Leder sums it up succinctly:
are minuscule things, a single cell dividing, the platelets in our blood,
a walk. Other times, miracles come in larger sizes: sequoias or oceans.
Most of all, there are the miracles we perform; life-giving, loving, courageous
miracles that come from understanding our place and purpose in the world,
that come from reaching out and reaching down to others. The miraculous
is the common and the constant: birth, teaching, our breath. The miraculous
is everywhere, though we sometimes fail to see it."[*]
It is our prayer that
we remain open to those truly wondrous moments and experiences which make
the ordinary, extraordinary, and the mundane
Happy Hanukkah to
all our readers.
Z. Leder, The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things (New York:
Behrman House, Inc. 1999). p. 58.
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