Secondary Sources: Miracles
Rabbinic notion of daily miracles: “Come and consider how many miracles the Holy One blessed be He, performs for people, and they are unaware of it. If a person was to swallow bread without chewing it, it would hurt them terribly, but God created people with mouths which lets them to chew and then swallow.” (Exodus Rabba 24:1).
Avraham Joshua Heschel talked about the mystery of the universe – how it came to be like it is and the rules that make it work – and how that makes us feel a great sense of wonder” (God in Search of Man).
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
Mordechai Kaplan explains the miracles in Jewish literature as reflecting the attempt “of the ancient authors to prove and illustrate God’s power and goodness” (Judaism as Civilization, p. 98) Kaplan maintained that these traditions concerning miracles were in conflict with modern thought, and that the belief in miracles that contravene natural law is a “psychological impossibility for most people.” (Questions Jews Ask, p. 155-156)
Albert Einstein: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
Image source :https://i.ytimg.com/vi/paLdIlvLtaw/hqdefault.jpg
Peggy Noonan: “I think miracles exist in part as gifts and in part as clues that there is something beyond the flat world we see.” Peggy Noonan is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. She has written eight books on American politics and culture. Quote is from: What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990).
Image source: http://www.peggynoonan.com/
Evidence & Belief
The real question for moderns is not can miracles happen, but did they and do they happen. As Hume recognized, the question is one of evidence. Many events that were seen in the past as miracles can now be understood as due to the operation of natural laws, even though Hume himself is less than categorical about the absolute necessity of cause: A) always to produce the effect, B) it usually seems to produce.
Undoubtedly, a modern Jewish believer will be far less prone to attribute extraordinary events to a supernatural intervention, but his belief in God’s power will not allow him to deny the very possibility of miracles occurring.
A Hasidic saying has it that a Hasid who believes that all the miracles said to have been performed by the Hasidic masters actually happened is a fool, but anyone who believes that they could not have happened is an unbeliever. The same can be said of miracles in general.
Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Jacobs#/media/File:Rabbijacobs.jpg
China’s Miracle Man
Monday, July 9, 2007: He survived against all the odds; “now Peng Shulin has astounded doctors by learning to walk again. When his body was cut in two by a lorry in 1995, it was little short of a medical miracle that he lived.
It took a team of more than 20 doctors to save his life.
Doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Centre in Beijing found out about Mr Peng’s plight late last year and devised a plan to get him up walking again. They came up with an ingenious way to allow him to walk on his own, creating a sophisticated egg cup-like casing to hold his body with two bionic legs attached to it.
He has been taking his first steps around the centre with the aid of his specially adapted legs and a resized walking frame. Mr Peng, who has to learn how to walk again, is said to be delighted with the device.
In November 2009, the Australian Daily Telegraph reported that Peng had opened his own bargain supermarket, called the Half Man-Half Price Store.
What self-confidence… and optimism…
In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.
At the creation of the State of Israel on May14th, 1948, David Ben-Gurion became the first Prime minister of Israel and its Defense Minister. For more information, see: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/ben_gurion.html
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Chaim Weizmann was the first President of Israel. He was elected on 16 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952. For more information, see: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/weizmann.html
David Hume on Miracles
The Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) launched an effective critique of miraculous claims. This sceptical rationalism was a major challenge to religious belief throughout the later 18th and 19th centuries.
From David Hume. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable, that all men must die; that lead cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is extinguished by water; unless it be, that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or in other words, a miracle to prevent them? Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happen in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation….