The difference between a miracle and a natural event
is only in frequency
-- The Baal Shem Tov
Miracles are all around us; we must open
our eyes to see them
-- The Rebbe
A group of college students had a private
audience with the Rebbe. One student asked the Rebbe if
he could perform miracles.
This physical, natural world, he explained,
is not a separate entity from the higher, spiritual
world -- rather, it evolved from it. And so, when
someone connects himself to the spiritual world, to G-d,
he can affect things in this physical world in a way that
cannot be anticipated. Every person is given the choice
whether or not to connect themselves to the spiritual world.
We must make the right choice, the Rebbe continued,
and use all our strength to live virtuously, to introduce
harmony to everyone we meet, to encourage others to increase
goodness and defeat evil -- in effect, to make the world
a better place.
The Rebbe concluded: So, in essence, by inspiring
students like yourselves to go into the world and perform
good works, yes, we can perform miracles.
What is a Miracle?
Do you believe in miracles? To answer this
question, we must define what we mean by miracle.
The word is used so often, sometimes for such
trivial events, that it has become a cliché. On a superficial
level, some people consider a miracle to be simply an unexpected
event or a wonderful surprise; for others, however, a
miracle is the belief that G-d has intervened supernaturally
in their lives. People may disagree whether events in their
lives are indeed miraculous or can be explained naturally.
Some see miracles as a true affirmation of G-ds presence
in their lives; a more skeptical person may think of a miracle
as an unrealistic hope, something to cling to in the face
of lifes harsh realities.
The question of miracles is really a question
of how we understand G-d and the role He plays in our lives.
By analyzing the anatomy of a miracle and understanding
your feelings about miracles, you can learn much that will
help you find deeper meaning in your life.
So what do we mean by miracle?
If we agree that a miracle is a beneficent occurrence that
cannot be explained by the laws of nature, then we must
first ask the question: What is a natural event? Why
wouldnt any natural event that awes and excites us
be considered a miracle?
Truth be told, we dont really understand
the laws of nature. Yes, nature operates according
to a design that we have come to accept as normal. But while
this makes life more predictable and, therefore, comfortable,
it doesnt necessarily make it any more understandable.
When we know, for instance, that the sun will rise tomorrow
morning, we feel a sense of order and control; but we still
have no idea as to why nature was created this way. Just
because we label something natural doesnt
mean that we understand it any better than we understand
The difference between a miracle and an act
of nature is only in frequency. Imagine that the sun were
to rise only once in our lifetime. Everyone would rush to
see it, proclaiming it the most miraculous event they had
ever witnessed. But since we experience a sunrise every
day, we see it as just another ordinary part of our lives.
This is an inherent human trait -- we become
so accustomed to something that, no matter how extraordinary
it may be, we take it for granted. We constantly need a
new rush of excitement to arouse our interest. Someone will
say, If I only saw a miracle, then I would believe,
then I would change my life! What are we waiting for
-- the splitting of the sea? Miracles are happening around
us every moment. Life itself is a miracle; consider for
just a moment the sheer wonder of human birth. In fact,
we do often refer to birth as a miracle; why, then,
do we so easily forget that every person on earth is the
product of a miracle?
Since we are so distracted by the daily struggle
to survive, by our responsibilities and obligations, we
tend to ignore such simple facts. The very noise of life
drowns out the underlying sound of what should be most
real to us. It is not that we dont believe in miracles;
we simply stop taking the time to appreciate them. To see
a miracle means to appreciate the uncommon within the common,
the extraordinary within the ordinary.
When you can recognize the extraordinary
within the ordinary, supernatural occurrences are
not so significant. Your faith -- and life -- is not dependent
on such miracles, for you have a mature relationship with
a reality that is higher than yourself, and you realize
that the ultimate miracle is our very existence.
Just contemplate the awesome design and balance
within any one family of the animal, vegetable, or mineral
kingdom, to say nothing of the beauty of the human body
or the elegance of the solar system. The miracle of nature
is not to be found in its once-in-a-lifetime events, but
in its relentless regularity. Whereas every creation of
man is ephemeral, every part of nature is boundless, permanent,
and inexplicable -- in a word, miraculous.
Yes, we can explain away many events, even
miraculous ones. But then again, a good mind
can explain away anything. Just as you have a choice in
everything you do, you can use your mind to either seek
out the miracles in life or deny them. Only you will know
the degree of sincerity with which you are trying to understand
your life and instill it with meaning.
By looking honestly at your life, you will
recognize the miracles within nature and the miracle of
nature itself. You will recognize the divine providence
in all your activities. You will learn to appreciate the
miracles of your own life -- the successes youve had
and the very miracle of life. Thank G-d for these miracles;
dont take them for granted.
And finally, you will realize that the world
around you is experiencing miracles within miracles, a revolution
from within. It is time to acknowledge that the world is
hurtling toward redemption -- and that it is your choice
and your choice alone whether to be a part of it.
A man had driven some distance to attend
a gathering with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and he stood in
line along with several thousand others.
I dont come just for the inspiration,
he explained to the person in front of him. Ive
heard of numerous miraculous incidents at these occasions.
Upon reaching the Rebbe, each person in line held
out a cup, into which the Rebbe would pour some wine. When
the man finally reached the Rebbe, he held out the cup in
his left hand, but the Rebbe motioned for him to hold it
in his right.
The man made no move to change hands, and the Rebbe
did not pour the wine. An attendant urged the man, Please
hold the cup in your right hand. With obvious
trepidation, he extended his right hand. He looked on in
disbelief as the Rebbe filled his cup. The people behind
him were annoyed with the delay, but he wholeheartedly forgave
them. How could they have know that his right hand had
This is an excerpt from Toward a Meaningful Life
The Wisdom of the Rebbe by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.