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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Beshalach

The Miracles You Don’t See

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What was the greatest (revealed) miracle in the history of the Jewish People? Well, there is actually a debate about this (that’s right - Jews don’t agree on everything!).

Most people, of course, would say it is "Kriat Yam Suf," the Splitting of the Reed Sea. I mean, how could anything ever top that?! Indeed, Chazal say that ALL water, everywhere in the world, moved from side to side at that moment! It spelled the end of Egypt as a world power, & sealed the deal of our deliverance from slavery.

But others (e.g. Ibn Ezra) say that the Mahn, also a part of our sedra of B’Shalach, is an even greater miracle! After all, it fell from Heaven to our doorstep, perfectly integrated into the body (with no waste left over!) & tasted like almost any food imaginable. (Quite fittingly, the parsha of Mahn is read during this week of Tu B’Shvat; Rav Dessler says that fruit is the modern-day equivalent of the Mahn!)

But I wonder about the confluence of the 3 major items in our Sedra: The Splitting of the Sea, the Mahn, & the battle against Amalek. What, if anything, connects these three seemingly disparate subjects?

I suggest the following: Kriat Yam Suf was a miracle that could not be denied; it was so dramatic, so stupendous, that even the most cynical, stubborn unbeliever HAD to acknowledge it. As Chazal write: "The maid-servant at the Sea ‘saw G-d’ more than even the greatest prophets of Jewish history!"

But miracles are not restricted only to events which mesmerize us. Miracles also come packaged in what seems like natural, rational events. In fact, it is actually these miracles which are even more impressive, because they happen almost casually, as if they are "coming" to us.

This is precisely the point of the latter two items in the sedra. Mahn represents parnasa – sustenance; ("Mahn" even connects to "money" or "mahn"-ey!). Is it not a miracle that we have survived – no, prospered! – throughout the generations, despite often being restricted from guilds, universities, government office, real estate, etc?

And all the wars we have fought – starting with Amalek & continuing to this very day in Israel - how did we survive, or triumph in those?? Is this any less miraculous than the sea splitting?!

The Torah "connects the dots" for us: "Mahn" is the root of the word "Emuna," faith. And in the war against Amalek, Moshe lifts his hands to the heavens, from whence our help comes, & we prevail. "Vay’hi yadav EMUNA" says the pasuk, employing this same exact term; his hands "were faithful."

Let’s "faith" it: Miracles are everywhere; just close your eyes & open your souls, & - IF you have faith - you will undoubtedly see them.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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