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Do you believe in Miracles?

Thursday, 15 December, 2016 - 2:34 pm

With Chanukah around the corner the thought of miracle is in the air.  For me the first thought that comes to mind is an article written last year that mocked the childish belief of educated adults in the possibility of miracles.  It challenged that our faith shouldn’t be based on childish fantasy stories of candles burning miraculously for eight days.  Rather, the celebration of Chanukah should be about religious freedom.

Miracles happen around us every day.  The rising of the sun, the changing of the seasons, the smile in my child’s eyes, or the breath we take every morning.  Tell me please why is a small flame surviving eight days on one one-days worth of oil any greater a miracle  then a ball of gasses many times the size of our earth giving light, warming our planer, growing our plants for thousands of years without changing course???

Another point: “Religious Freedom”? What does that mean? Freedom for what? To eat Challah? To go to shul? Do you think the Greeks really cared about Matzah balls or a bunch of Jews fasting on Yom Kippur?  The Greeks persecuted our religion, the religion that says there is a G-d that transcends our day to day reality and a G-d who permeates it at the same time.  The persecuted our right to believe in miracles and our right to live a life that is founded on those beliefs.

Why do we have a difficulty believing in Miracles? Because it shatters our perception of reality and it confuses our comfort zone.  That is why we have no problem with the sun rising and setting each day, because it has become our perception of reality and it is our comfort zone.  But isn’t that what makes us as a people and as a religion unique? That we are forever breaking out of our comfort zone to believe in something transcendent.  To believe in the stories that have allowed us to outlive the Greeks, the Romans, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Nazis and has given rise to advances in Torah study, the establishment of the state of Israel, the rise of a people yet again from ashes that have time and time again wished to see the Jew in their smolders. 

But most importantly the Miracles give us the ability to break out of our comfort zone and be a better example for the world around us.  To allow us to do those things that the society around us might see as strange, eating kosher, keeping Shabbat, sending our children to Jewish schools, and to believe in Miracles!

Happy Chanukah (Chanukah Wonderland is this Sunday) and Good Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

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