Miracles occur in all sizes and shapes. Some are major, completely aberrational and beyond natural or rational explanation. Other miracles that occur to us daily in our own lives take the form of being natural events and part of the rhythm of society and life. Major miracles command our attention, and as we see in this week’s reading of the Torah, even cause us to sing eternal songs that extend through generations of Jewish life till our very day.
Certainly, the splitting of the waters of the sea before the Jewish people, escaping from the Army of the Pharaoh of Egypt, and then for those very waters receding and covering the drowning Egyptian enemy, is a miracle of major importance, and thus remains indelible in the collective memory of the Jewish people. So, Moshe and his sister Miriam lead the Jewish people in song to commemorate this event and to impress upon them the awesome quality of this major miracle.
We are reminded daily in our prayers of this miracle, and the song of Moshe forms an important part of our daily morning prayer service. This type of miracle was repeated when the Jewish people crossed the river Jordan on their entry into the land of Israel after the death of Moshe and at the beginning of the reign of Joshua. This could be termed less of a miracle, than what took place with the Egyptian army, yet it represented the confirmation of the divine will to protect the Jewish people and to enable them to enter, inhabit and settle the land of Israel that would be its eternal homeland over all of the millennia of civilization.
However, the commemoration and memory of the major miracle should also remind us of the so-called minor miracles that occur to us in our daily lives. We are accustomed to everything going right as far as our bodies, social interactions and commercial enterprises are concerned. But it should be obvious that for things to go just right – simply what we call normal life – countless minor miracles must take place. We recite this in our daily prayers as well, and, in fact, we do so three times a day when we acknowledge and thank God for these so-called minor miracles that are with us constantly, evening, morning and afternoon.
This ability to recognize and give thanks for the minor miracles that constitute our daily existence stems from the fact that we experienced, in our collective memory, the great miracle that made us a people, and saved us from the destruction that Pharaoh wished to visit upon us. It is this memory of the great miracle that enables us to recognize the so-called minor miracles that we are living through, especially here in the land of Israel, with the return of Jewish sovereignty.
It is important to maintain the ability to recognize and be grateful for the wonders and miracles that the Lord grants us each and every day of our individual and national lives.
Rabbi Berel Wein