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Posted on January 17, 2019 (5779) By Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein | Series: | Level:

The story of the Exodus is full of miracles, such as the makos (plagues), krias Yam Suf (the splitting of the sea), and the mon (the manna). Certainly, these miracles influenced Klal Yisrael, and we are commanded each year to tell our descendents of the wonders that we experienced.

Nonetheless, our faith is not based on miracles alone. What appears as miraculous phenomena may be mere sorcery or sleight of hand, and not substantial evidence of anything. So explains the Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah, chapter 8. This is important, because various religions are based on stories of miraculous occurrences. Our response to these religions is that our faith does not depend on miracles…

Serach Bas Asher

After Moshe Rebbenu presented himself to the Jewish People, the elders asked Serach, the daughter of Asher, regarding Moshe.

“What did he show you?” she asked. “He turned a stick into a snake.”

“There is nothing special in that,” she said. “What did he say?”

“He told us, ‘Hashem appeared to me, saying, ‘Pakod p’kadeti — I have surely remembered you,’ ” they replied.

“If so, he is the redeemer! I have such a tradition!” Serach exclaimed. (Pirke D’rebbe Eliezer)

A World of Miracles

Everything is neis. Our hashkafa says that we are completely surrounded with miracles. (See Ramban, end of Parshas Bo.) What was special at Yetzias Mitzraim (the Exodus)? The preponderance of miracles which defied nature altogether certainly grabbed Yisrael’s attention and illustrated the stubborness of Paroh. We came to the realization that Hashem guides us constantly with miracles. One who does not believe so is following in the footsteps of foolish Paroh.

However, if we are surrounded with miracles at all time, there is no basis for complaint and bitterness. Someone who asks, “Why don’t miracles happen to me?” is missing the true miracle of life – and is in danger of being swayed by miracle-workers. If it doesn’t take any effort to believe, it’s not really faith. See Rav Shach in the name of the Brisker Rav and Rav Chaim Brisker.

Going to the Rebbe

When a person has an issue, a dispute, it’s common to go to a Rebbe to feel justified. If, after leaving the Rebbe, he does feel justified, it is likely he has missed much of the Rebbe’s intention. Learning is not self-justification — learning is self-correction!

How many times does someone go to a shiur, and comes out saying he learned nothing new? A person will review the parsha, or the Gemara, but it’s just a review. Chazal however, say: “Ein Beis Medrash Blo Chidush — there is no place of learning without novel ideas.” The Torah is always new. Torah is revolutionary; we must feel the revolution within ourselves.

Torah is not a tool to reprove others, but a vehicle to correct ourselves. We should always leave learning with the feeling that we need to grow, to change.

The Ramban writes, “When you get up from learning, see what new information you acquired, and think about applying it to your life.” (Igeres Haramban)

The purpose of the miracles is to see that Hashem runs the world, all the time…