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Do Jews Believe in Miracles?

Do Jews Believe in Miracles?



What is the Jewish standpoint on miracles? How important or unimportant is miraculous phenomena to the Jewish believer?


Allow me to rephrase your question in the opposite manner: "What is the Jewish standpoint on nature? How important or unimportant is natural phenomena to the Jewish believer?"

G‑d manages every aspect of creation at every given moment. There are no rules He must follow. There are no forces He must contend with. All is in His hands.

Nonetheless, He chose to create a system called "nature." An arrangement of fixed rules. An order of causes and effects. Why did he create nature? In order to conceal His identity and hide His footprints. He wanted a world in which things would appear as if they run on their own, and thus, force Man to discover G‑d on his own. In fact, the very word for nature in Hebrew, "tevah," also translates as "sunk." Nature is G‑d's way of submerging His presence under a sea of scientific laws and patterns. And Man is a deep-sea diver given the task of finding G‑d's hand which lurks behind the veil of nature.

And so, life is very similar to a game of "Hide and Go Seek." But every now and then, G‑d emerges from His hiding place and breaks through the self-imposed shackles of nature. The sea is split. A scientific rule is broken. Mother Nature is proven wrong. Perhaps, a child is cured from an incurable disease. Or our nation is saved from a seemingly hopeless situation. And it is through these supernatural events that we realize that nature too is merely a creation of G‑d.

For more on this topic, please see The Miracle of the First Night, and The Shushan Files.

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar is a Chabad rabbi in Cary, North Carolina. He is also a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
Artwork by David Brook. David lives in Sydney, Australia, and has been selling his art since he was in high school. He is currently painting and doing web illustrations.
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steven bell mt Berry, GA September 19, 2011

why does G-d not intervene I think I can understand the every moment is a miracle. I am having trouble understanding why when it seems a miracle is needed it doesn't happen? e.g.. holocaust Reply

jeff miami, florida April 28, 2009

do jews believe in miracles? yes...the key is to remember. Reply

Yisroel Cotlar June 30, 2008

Re: What is a Miracle? My intent was not say that there is no difference between a miracle and nature. I believe that the article pointed out that a miracle is something special—a revelation from G-d. Thus, we celebrate a miracle, giving thanks to G-d for the wonder. I agree that there is indeed something extraordinary about the extraordinary.

Rather, I wished to convey that nature too is an expression of G-d, albeit in a hidden manner. Recognizing that there is no force outside of G-d is an important theme in Judaism. Chassidic thought stresses how both phenomena come from – and should be viewed – as G-dliness. It is only that that nature is rooted in the Divine name of "Elokim" while a miracle stems from the Tetragrammaton. To say that nature stems from something other than G-dliness, is inconsistent with this Torah belief. And so, I fail to understand the difficulties you have with this idea as well as the approach taken by the author.

I do hope that this helps clear up a misunderstanding. Reply

Morton Bodanis Montreal, Canada June 29, 2008

What is a miracle? Rabbi Cotler

I am a Jew, put on tefillen, go to shul, believe in G-d. This distressed me. Miracles are events that occur outside of nature. The burning bush, pillar of smoke by day, fire by night. I could go on and I believe that you know it.

I take offence when you obfuscate and infer that we don't know about what we are hearing. If you were talking to very young children who don't know, who's minds are malleable, innocent, and not yet capable of much independent thought, who can't draw on past learnings, who have not yet learned to reason, I can understand.

Your attitude is condescending and patronizing. You explain as if Hashem conferred directly with you. Instead of addressing the question directly, you are creating your own history and definitions. You ignore past historic events as if we were children who had never learned them. You are creating your definitions and terms of reference. I find this insulting and deprecating. Reply

Susan Schwarz Oshawa, Canada via June 27, 2008

Hashem and the wonderous Miracles I have been witness to miracles on more than one occasion.. My Father's fistula from dialysis blew up.. He was at home in our small town. The only cardiovascular surgeon in our area was in the hospital performing routine surgery when he arrived. He went code blue twice. He was not expected to make it. We prayed hard and he survived and recovered fully. He is in his 18th year of dialysis. Today he is back running his cattle business. I see miracles from G-d in other things but we must have our eyes and hearts open to them. Reply

Alice Wonderland June 26, 2008

Do Jews "Believe" in Miracles? It is inappropriate to use such a word combination. We are in the sea of paradoxical miracles. Reply

Rachel Garber Phila, PA USA June 25, 2008

Domeonr posited that there are no miracles today I disagree, how do we explain the fact that so many bombs fall on Israel several years ago, and yet no one was killed, how do we explain that except that it is a miracle. We think of miracles as something big, like the parting of the Red Sea, there are many small miracles everyday. We humans either deny they happen, or expect them to be earth shattering. We do kind of set ourselves up to deny their existence. Kind of sad if you think about it. Maybe I'm naive, but I choose to believe that miracles do still happen Reply

Chaya Abrahamson Johannesburg, South Africa June 23, 2008

THE WONDER OF MIRACLES Two years ago I became critically ill to the point where my name was changed and doctors raised their ands in despair. Worldwide people prayed as well as those who were encamped outside the ICU. Interestingly, though, my team of doctors consisted of a German, Indian, Italian and Chinese who turned to those praying after three weeks and told them that they should continue to do whatever it is that they were doing, because it was working. My recovery has been noted as miraculous as my life was literally hanging in the balance. The miraculous happens everyday, from the birth of a child to the rising of the sun. I believe that it is our choice as to whether we choose to see them. Reply

Rob W. Pittsburgh, PA / USA October 23, 2007

Natural Revelation Rabbi Cotlar, great article, though I'm not entirely literally convinced. I'm a Jewish Deist or a Deistic Jew -- i.e. I "believe" in G-d, but I'm skeptical about miracles. I met an atheistic chemist who uses your sort of terms / images. He said to me, "You believe in the agorophobic G-d; you think G-d is there, but that He hides behind a wall of Natural Law." My dad (who's even more secular than I am) put it best when he said, "Who says G-d is hiding? Maybe the Natural Law is how G-d reveals Himself to us!" That's why I think a good scientist is a sort of prophet. A Christian friend asked me why I doubt miracles. I said, "Because G-d gave us a naturalistic universe." He then asked, "Why pray then?" I said, "To thank G-d for giving us a naturalistic universe." Reply

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