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Shabbat Parashat Vayechi 5772

Ein Ayah: The Lessons of the Place of a Miracle

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:1)

Gemara:  Someone who sees a place where miracles happened to Israel recites: “Blessed is He who did miracles for our forefathers in this place.”


Ein Ayah:  It is proper to view the unity between miracles and nature, as all of Hashem’s actions are one. Whatever nature is unable to maintain in the world’s proper function is provided by miracles. Therefore, miracles are not a totally different apparatus but are connected to nature. This “partnership” is also reflected in Chazal’s statement: “Hashem made a condition with the creations of genesis …,” as the miracle finds its place in cooperation with nature. Therefore, the question of how Hashem can change His mind [and do miracles] is not a question because the role of miracles is part of the apparatus that Hashem created.

The foundation of nature is place, because place encompasses all limited things, in quality and in quantity. When Chazal wanted to tell us that something is beyond nature, they said that it is beyond space, like the fact that the dimensions of the ark and cherubim did not take up space. (Yoma 21a). In our context, therefore, to demonstrate that miracles are connected to nature, and the two are connected to Divine Providence, we make the blessing, “Blessed is He who did miracles for our forefathers in this place.”

A related message that we learn from the idea of miracles is that there is no chance in the world. Rather everything is a product of the providence that comes from the ultimate wisdom. If there were only nature, then we would say that although nature was created with great wisdom, there are individual occurrences, which have no purpose and happen only because of the rules of nature. However since miracles exist, which work outside the rules of nature, it turns out that nothing must be because of nature and if something happened as it did, it must have a specific reason. If something has a specific, divinely ethical purpose, then even its seemingly unimportant details have ethical significance. The place where a miracle occurs is a perfect example. While noting the miracle and realizing that there was a reason for it, we hint that there must be a reason why the miracle happened in the place it did. We do not say that the place makes no difference, even if we do not know what the reason is.

While miracles deserve a blessing, so too nature deserves blessings, as it is a manifestation of great divine grandeur and kindness. However, we must distinguish between thought and speech. Thought naturally extends to matters that will come only in the end of days, which are loftier to think about than matters of the present. In contrast, speech is related to those things that a person sees in the present. Nature runs in such a way that its connection to ethics will be seen only at the end of the days, for in the meantime it often seems that forces of evil have much success. Therefore, regarding natural phenomena, our thanks are reserved primarily for creation in general terms, as we feel that “Hashem’s kindness fills the land” (Tehillim 33:5). However, regarding specific events, we can see the good only with a broad eternal look, which is beyond words.

Miracles, on the other hand, are always done for a purpose that supports righteousness. Therefore, it is fitting to make the blessing with one’s mouth. Someone who wants to see the righteousness within the acts of nature is being unreasonable because such a wonderful, complex system cannot be fully appreciated by man. Therefore, one who recites Hallel every day is a blasphemer (Shabbat 118b). That would make Hashem’s running of the world look simplistic and compartmentalized, when actually, “How great are Your actions, Hashem? How deep are Your thoughts?” (Tehillim 92:6).

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