belongs to that group of modern Jewish thinkers (along with Rosenzweig
and Heschel), who returned to an almost biblical conception of miracles,
based upon the idea that the miracle is a "sign" of God's presence.
Buber stresses that no miracle is contrary to nature. For Buber, both
miracle and nature were part of revelation, and man's openness to that
experience of revelation is what makes it miraculous. Buber approaches
biblical miracles by asking "what human relation to real events this
could have been... [which] grew into the written account we have read."
He maintains that modern-day man can experience the same miracle that
biblical man experienced; man's attitude to particular events or people
is the raw material out of which experiences that are miracles arise.
For a person properly attuned, any event of meaning to him may be considered
Moses held out his arm over the sea and the LORD drove back the
sea with a strong east wind all that night, and turned the sea into
dry ground. The waters were split .
The concept of miracle which
is permissible from the historical approach can be defined at its starting point
as an abiding astonishment. The philosophizing and the religious person both
wonder at the phenomenon but the one neutralizes his wonder in ideal knowledge,
while the other abides in that wonder; no knowledge, no cognition, can weaken
his astonishment. Any causal explanation only deepens the wonder for him. The
great turning points in religious history are based on the fact that again and
ever again an individual and a group attached to him wonder and keep on wondering
at a natural phenomenon, at a historical event, or at both together; always
at something intervenes fatefully in the life of this individual and this group.
They sense and experience it as a wonder. This, to be sure, is only the starting-point
of the historical
concept of wonder but it cannot be explained away.
Miracle is not something
"supernatural" or "superhistorical," but an incident,
an event which can be fully included in the objective, scientific nexus
of nature and history; the vital meaning of which, however for the person
to whom it occurs, destroys the security of the whole nexus of knowledge
for him and explodes the fixity of the fields of experience named "Nature
" and "History." Miracle is simply what happens; in so
far as it meets people who are capable of receiving it, or prepared to
receive it, as miracle. The extraordinary element favors this coming together,
but it is not characteristic of it; the normal and ordinary call also
undergo a transfiguration into miracle in the light of the suitable hour.
The historical reality
of Israel leaving Egypt cannot be grasped if the conception of the accompanying,
preceding, guiding God is left out. This is the " God of the Fathers",
with whom the tribes have now established contact. He has always been
a God who wandered with his own and showed them the way. But now he has
been revealed to them afresh through the secret of his name as the one
who remains present with his own. He leads them by a way differing from
the customary one of the caravans and armies. He has his own ideas of
guidance, and those who follow him find welfare
Following his leader; Moses
comes to the shore, he steps on the sands that are barely covered by shallow
water; and the hosts follow him as he follows the God. At this point occurs
whatever occurs, and it is apprehended as a miracle. It is
irrelevant whether "much" or "little," unusual things or
usual, tremendous or trifling events happened; what is vital is only that what
happened was experienced, while it happened, as the act of God. The people saw
in whatever it was they saw "the great hand" and they "believed
in YHVH'' or, more correctly translated, "they gave their trust to YHVH."
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